Blackwell’s real achievement with Shadow Man is that he’s created this Lewis Miles Archer character, entirely borrowed and entirely original and slippery as hell. Finding the “true story” in this novel is like trying to trap your own shadow.
The story of Shadow Man, essentially, is that it’s a biography of the inspiration for all those great noir novels of the first half of the twentieth century. Which would make you think it’s an homage of some sort. And it is, yes, particularly when it comes to Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, and Ross MacDonald’s The Moving Target, but Shadow Man exceeds just another pulpy mystery noir in the long line of pulpy mystery noirs. It’s not influenced by them, Shadow Man is the influence itself. It’s the solved mystery behind The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, The Moving Target—the pillars of all that pulp.
Review of Shadow Man in Heavy Feather Review
Joseph Riippi reviewed Shadow Man for Heavy Feather Review. Part of that review is his transcription of a conversation he had with a stranger while waiting for a plane at LAX: