• Killing the Shadows

  • By: Val McDermid
  • Narrated by: Vari Sylvester
  • Length: 16 hrs and 23 mins
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (155 ratings)
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Killing the Shadows  By  cover art

Killing the Shadows

By: Val McDermid
Narrated by: Vari Sylvester
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Publisher's summary

A killer is on the loose, blurring the line between fact and fiction. His prey - the writers of crime novels who have turned psychological profilers into the heroes of the nineties. But this killer is like no other. His bloodlust shatters all the conventional wisdom surrounding the motives and mechanics of how serial killers operate. And for one woman, the desperate hunt to uncover his identity becomes a matter of life and death.

Professor Fiona Cameron is an academic psychologist who uses computer technology to help police forces track serial offenders. She used to help the Met, but vowed never to work for them again when they went against her advice and badly screwed up an investigation as a consequence. Still smarting from the experience, she's working a case in Toledo when her lover, thriller writer Kit Martin, tells her a fellow crime novelist has been murdered. It's not her case, but Fiona can't help taking an interest.

Which is just as well, because before too long the killer strikes again. And again. And Fiona is caught up in a race against time, not only to save a life, but to bring herself redemption, both personal and professional.

Rich in atmosphere, Killing the Shadows uses the backdrops of city and country to create an air of threatening menace, culminating in a tense confrontation between hunter and hunted, a confrontation that can have only one outcome.

©2002 Val McDermid (P)2005 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

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What listeners say about Killing the Shadows

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    68
  • 4 Stars
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  • 2 Stars
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Performance
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    15
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Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Too much

I read a lot of mysteries containing explicit violence. But there is a point at which mutilations and killings become too gruesome and take up so much of the book that skipping over the extreme violence leaves you with hardly anything to read. I suspect that publishers require their authors to top the level of "gruesomeness" in each new book. That is regrettable.

I doubt I'm alone in my growing avoidance of books like "Killing the Shadow". Only so much prolonged, repetitive, excruciatingly graphic and detailed descriptions of mutilations/murders can be tolerated. I only wish there was a violence rating scale so that I didn't accidentally buy books like this one.

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15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Disappointing, creaky plot

What better subject could there be for a mystery writer than a serial killer targetting mystery writers? Yet this book suffers from significant plot weaknesses--basically, characters must display incredible stupidity or stubborness for the plot to advance. The underlining motive of the villain was, in my view, ridiculous. That said, there were moments of suspense, and some interesting characterizations. The narration was fine. This was the first book I've read by McDermid. I had high hopes because of her Diamond Dagger win (lifetime achievement from the British Crime Writers Assoc.), but I was disappointed. I'll probably give another book a chance, but I won't rush to do so.

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6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Suspense till the end

Would you consider the audio edition of Killing the Shadows to be better than the print version?

Since I haven't read the print version I wouldn't know

What did you like best about this story?

I suppose the story itself it what I most enjoyed. The fact that you were never quite sure of what was to happen next, is to me what keeps me listening. The narration was also excellent. Even with minor changes in her voice the characters became believable and real.

Which scene was your favorite?

I totally enjoyed the entire performance

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I prefer books that have a substantial length so I can stretch them out over days.

Any additional comments?

I have listened to dozens of books over my years with audible and can say this is one of my all time favorites. I am familiar with Val McDermids work both in books and TV and always find them compelling both in subject and construction.

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4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Chick flick police procedural

Light on story, heavy on emotion. Predictable. Narrator makes this worse. Her voice for the guys makes them sound like drag queen parodies.

I have read other Val McDermoid and enjoyed them. This one was nauseating.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Engaging Story and Characters

I enjoyed this novel; it held my interest. I cared what happened to the characters. It's not Val McDermid's best--I prefer her more recent novels; she gets better and better in my opinion.

This wasn't the worst reading I've encountered, by far. The pacing and general expressiveness were very good. In a book with this many significant characters a professional reader must make a choice--whether to try to give each character a distinctive sound, or to favor general plausibility in terms of tone and pacing. I prefer plausibility, some variation for characters, but remaining within the bounds of normal speech patterns; the reader seems to have tried to give each character a unique voice, implausibly making intelligent characters, including a reasonably intelligent DCI (not a career that favors hesitancy) speak hesitantly, almost robotically.

Nonetheless, an entertaining and engaging listen--exactly what I want from audiobooks in this genre.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

auical slog

What would have made Killing the Shadows better?

different narator, tighter plot

Has Killing the Shadows turned you off from other books in this genre?

no

How could the performance have been better?

oh my gosh,yes! will not be listening to any more performances by this narrator

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

ho hum, impatience, disbelief

Any additional comments?

the narrator sounds like she is gargling gravel, and has a thirty pack a day habbit. the audio is so poor at times it sounds like its coming thru a tin can and other times under water.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Atrocious reader!!!!

How could the performance have been better?

The timbre of the reader's voice is nice but the teeth whistle and continuously changing sound quality (or total lack thereof) is ridiculous. This kills the book.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Found it hard to listen and get in to

So straight of the audio quality, so bad it dipped in and out of mono to stereo a lot.
The story overall was good it took a lot to get in to as I found the voices of the characters similar and with there being many characters it wasn’t always easy to tell who it was which made the start of the story hard to gel with and get in to.
I love these books and Val but didn’t enjoy this one as much.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

This is painful to listen to. ...

The recording is garbage. Whoever produced this should be ashamed. The sound quality is pathetic. It's either tinny, or sounds like the narrator is underwater.

Story seems decent so far. I have not finished it yet.

I just wanted to express my discontent of the sound production before i forgot.

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Not McDermid's Best, Stilted Narration

I can’t believe I actually listened to this whole thing. Spoilers ahead, not that it matters very much: the premise here is that someone is killing thriller novelists in ways that correspond to murders they’ve described in their books. Our protagonist, Fiona, is a psychological profiler who works with the police, and her partner, Kit, is an author of serial killer thrillers. I like this premise, and I hung on ‘til the bitter end hoping for some kind of payoff, but…ugh, you guys, this book is just so very, very dumb. When two novelists have been killed in ways they’ve described in their books, and numerous other authors have received death threats, I think it’s safe to say that there’s enough evidence to consider the possibility that someone is targeting thriller authors, right? But even the protagonist and her partner are like, “Look, just because two thriller novelists have been killed in ways they’ve described in their books and the rest of us are getting death threats isn’t evidence of a killer targeting authors. That’s ridiculous! Those other two authors probably lived high-risk lifestyles or whatever, let’s not be careful or warn everyone.” Then a third gets killed, then MORE death threats, and still everyone is all, “Nah, not seeing a pattern.” Someone finally takes all the cases to a person with a fancy computer program who runs it through their system and – STUNNER – discovers that actually, there IS A PATTERN. Still, our supposedly smart protagonist is skeptical, and there’s a whole side plot about her sister being murdered years previously, which somehow makes her more likely to “overreact” to things like death threats directed at her boyfriend. Even after her partner is kidnapped and she can’t find him anywhere, she’s all, “No, I’m sure he just did something wildly out of character and dropped off the grid completely, him being targeted by a killer is a preposterous notion,” even though he has received written correspondence from someone making it very clear that he is, in fact, absolutely being targeted by a killer. The narrator wasn’t the worst I’ve ever heard, but her delivery was very stilted, and her non-British accents are terrible. My mind wandered frequently, but I didn’t care enough to rewind and try to figure out what the murders in Toledo, Hampstead Heath, and other places had to do with the main storyline. I really like McDermid’s work in general, but this one is a complete misfire.

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