Michael Prescott

Signet / 421 pages / 1st edition (June 1, 2000)

ISBN: 0451200799

Abby Sinclair has just about the most dangerous job you can envision. Contracting her services out to security firms, she takes the inside track to run stalkers to ground. Against one of the most dangerous and unpredictable of all criminals she goes undercover, moving in and befriending the stalker, preparing the profile and risk assessment that is essential to keeping the client/victim alive.

Abby Sinclair is a deadly weapon.

Her target this time is Raymond Hickle, mild-mannered obsessive with a lethal fixation on a beautiful news anchor. If he can’t have her, no one will. That’s your textbook escalation of violence that makes stalkers so dangerous. (How do you stop a stalker? Divert their obsession to another unfortunate victim. Put them in prison for life. Or — for the only foolproof solution — kill them; hope they force you to take desperate measures.) With Abby’s information, the security firm can head off any violent attacks… hopefully.

The Shadow Hunter may well be missed by some horror fans, because it is being marketed mainstream, in the thriller category. However, readers looking for a good scare should give Michael Prescott a try. There aren’t many things more frightening than the real-life stalkers loose in the world. Call them “psychos,” “sociopaths,” “antisocials” — they are scarier than any vampire, slime monster, or other standard horror creature. It’s just horror on the dark realism side and it’s definitely terrifying.

Prescott keeps the action going and the atmosphere taut. Readers could look at The Shadow Hunterand see a bestseller by the numbers, a product of formula. That may well be true, but it is, without question, a pattern that works. The novel is a fast-paced exercise in edgy suspense. The dangers are introduced immediately; the feeling of tension never relents, and the characters convey the pressure in every word and gesture. Prescott knows what he is doing.

The extra touch of venom in this novel is that very specific fear that comes with remaining in arm’s reach of danger. It’s those close calls when the hero barely makes it out of the room before the killer opens the door. When the readers know a deadly secret that we can’t tell, but that the characters in the story so desperately need to know. When the protagonist makes that fatal slip that puts their lives in peril. It is being inside, way too inside for comfort.

But that’s the way Abby Sinclair operates. That need to get inside the villain’s head is what makes for such a deadly game. It is Prescott’s ability to open up the minds of his characters while keeping so much hidden that generates such a compelling read.

After The Shadow Hunter, you will know more about stalkers, more than you’re really comfortable knowing, perhaps, but it’s valuable information to have. As Prescott vividly illustrates, you don’t need to be an international sex symbol to attract this kind of unwanted, unsought attention.

Feel the chill.