Karl Holton’s third book in the Shadow Series continues this captivating thriller on a journey that is edgy, enthralling and meticulously clever. The Water’s Shadow progresses days after The Wait for Shadows ends, with the same team formed by the mysterious Hanson and includes Benedict, Wallace, Paddy and Pip.
First off, it’s NOT recommended to read this book unless you’ve read the first 2 books in the series. The first 2 books provide an engrossing thriller with loads of fast-paced action and they also establish a fascinating core to the series. Jasper is seeking revenge on Hanson, and Hanson knows he needs to kill Jasper to protect his family and more. Both men have built global business interests and have powerful connections throughout the world in criminal and secret service organisations. Hanson has assembled his team of experts who have talents born from military, secret service and police backgrounds. Who will find who first? The writing needs to be great, to manage the multiple subplots, and deliver the tension and suspense – and it does. The characters continue to develop brilliantly, particularly Benedict, and the team’s interactions play on personal and professional issues. Hanson is dying and we start to see how the succession may play out. Again this is so carefully and meticulously presented and refined.
The Water’s Shadow is a deeper strategic plot that feels like an intense chess match – each move is carefully considered; is it a bluff, a defensive move, an offensive move or a mistake. This does not mean the intensity falters, in fact, it feels more compelling. Players in this chess match include a leading crime boss Lomax and the hitman Raske, who wants to finish the job of killing Hanson and Benedict – he has added a personal element to it now. In addition, the team are focused on a series of four abductions of extremely talented intellects by a stealth kidnapper who has a modus operandi of killing a member of the house in a certain way and using their blood to write a concealed number on an exterior glass door of the house. There is meaning in the numbers and it will bring them into the dark web. Karl Holton adds yet another layer of intrigue that is surreptitiously bubbling along and it involves a mysterious killer that has previously intervened to save Benedict and Paddy, but we don’t know why.
The chapters alternate between the different plot threads as the noose tightens – but around whose neck? The story structure is wonderfully developed and the plot continues to twist while still building the mystery. I can’t impress enough how intelligently Karl has pulled this together because I can recognise in this third book how all the plot threads and angles, started in previous books. This is the book were pieces I hadn’t paid too much attention to, start to fall into place. It reminds me of the talent George RR Martin and JK Rowling brought to their series of books, where they would place something that seemed inconsequential, then at a later point, you could recognise the importance of it. There is a skill to do that while maintaining an interesting and entertaining story, without the feeling the immediate plot is suffering.
I believe there is a code hidden in the books and elements are being revealed as we progress. I know Karl loves art and cites numerous paintings throughout the novel, so I wonder do they have anything to do with this hidden gambit. The mystery and impatience are starting to consume me!
I read this book with committed focus and absolutely enjoyed it. I would highly recommend this book but take my advice and read the first 2 books first.