In the Shadow of Sadd is a fantastic novel written by four separate authors, all stitched together without any seams showing. Each chapter focuses on one of four main characters, all labouring beneath the shadow of Jimmy Sadd. He’s the crime boss we never meet, but definitely learn to fear.
In the first, we meet Bruno, Sadd’s henchman trying to rid himself of a body in the back of his van with the help of his brother. In the second we see Paul, a pet shop employee who feeds Sadd’s fish in one of the boss’ many apartments spread across The City, when he finds something he really shouldn’t. In the third, Rikke Berg has just emerged from treatment and is now home convinced she did not have the mental issues her husband Christian suspects her having. Does he really work for the city’s notorious crime boss? When he asks her to move the rat behind the car outside, she steps out into the rain which drenches each of the stories, and finds a human body in a van. She thinks she’s been validated. Has she? The final chapter focuses on Paul’s (from the 2nd chapter) girlfriend Victoria, a woman who talks filth to customers over the phone for a living, and the part she plays in what Paul found in that secret room. The four main characters come together in this final chapter for a fantastic conclusion, revolving around a big stack of cash.
There is tons to love about this. I like the rain-drenched atmosphere and the claustrophobia it creates, keeping these people hunched inside a van, an apartment, a house; all desperate in some way. It’s impressive that this feels like the work of one author, instead of four, using a different voice for each character, but keeping the tone of the whole consistent. All four chapters hurt my stomach, worrying about the outcome, knowing what a bastard Jimmy Sadd is, and how he likes to hurt people for the fun of it. The reader never meets the man, but each character’s intense paranoia about him tells you everything you need to know. It’s like watching the last episodes in a season of Breaking Bad.
Though the plot is mostly about massive wads of cash and whether to steal it or not, the book has so much more going on. It’s about being trapped, whether by poverty, or by forces much bigger than you, and always looking for that way out even if the risk is enormous.
I loved it so much I bought Langstrup’s The Informer once I’d finished.