Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Release Date: March 2011 (paperback)
Publisher: The Fiction Studio
Pages: 326 (paperback)
Author Site: http://www.ethancross.com/
My Rating: 5/5
Source: Received for blog tour from Pump Up Your Book
Marcus Williams and Francis Ackerman Jr. both have a talent for hurting people. Marcus, a former New York City homicide detective, uses his abilities to protect others, while Ackerman uses his gifts to inflict pain and suffering. When both men become unwilling pawns in a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of our government, Marcus finds himself in a deadly game of cat and mouse trapped between a twisted psychopath and a vigilante with seemingly unlimited resources. Aided by a rogue FBI agent and the vigilante's beautiful daughter--a woman with whom he's quickly falling in love--Marcus must expose the deadly political conspiracy and confront his past while hunting down one of the most cunning and ruthless killers in the world.
I absolutely love, love, love reading a book that exceeds my expectations! I was fairly sure I’d enjoy reading The Shepherd but I wasn’t quite ready for all the surprises Ethan Cross had in store for me. And by surprise I don’t necessarily mean plot twists, although there were plenty to go around. The Shepherd was an exceptional read and I am so looking forward to reading whatever Cross comes out with next. I wouldn’t really call the ending a cliffhanger but I definitely want more of both Marcus and Ackerman.
There was a depth in the characters that really astonished me. I actually couldn’t believe how involved Cross became with the victims. It was hard not to become attached to each of them because their stories were summed up perfectly before Ackerman struck. Cross was able to make the victims actual characters within the story. Their short but detailed snippets made the victims stand out. I also liked how I wasn’t bogged down with the main character’s stories. Cross could have spent a long time developing them relentlessly but he chose not to. I could just foresee problems with wanting to go on and on about some of the characters because the way they were written but Cross did an excellent job of writing to the point and still packing a lot of informative details about each of them.
I also loved the fact that the violent parts weren’t over the top or outrageous but they weren’t sugar-coated either. Violent acts (i.e. murder, torture, etc) are hard to read about for most people. And if one is going to detail the act through words there is a fine line between going overboard with unnecessary gory description and actually not having enough depiction in fear of pushing the reader away. To me, the violent scenes in The Shepherd were very well done. They were reasonable and realistic and packed a punch to the point where I was scared for the victims and held my breath at certain parts.
I don’t want to go into the actual plot details because the entire story and crazy twist at the end is one not to be ruined. The Shepherd was definitely a thriller! I loved the characters. I loved the fast-paced detailed story. And I loved the fact that it made question my personal stand on the justice system and made me think "Well, what if that were me? What would I do in that situation?" And I found no real reason not to rate it five stars. I’m crossing my fingers that Cross will continue with the world he has created with The Shepherd. If not, I’ll still be picking up anything he comes out with next.
P.S. (cover talk)
Honestly, I didn’t quite like it at first. After finishing the novel I like the tie-in with the fire. It’s still not a fave but I always appreciate a cover that has an aspect of the story incorporated on it.