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The Identity Man

3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  274 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
An Otto Penzler Book
John Shannon is a petty thief on the run. A three-time loser framed for a murder he didn t commit, he knows the cops are closing in on him and that he s facing life in prison or death by lethal injection. Then, as if out of nowhere, a bizarre text message draws him to a meeting in the dark of night. A foreigner who calls himself the Identity Man offers
ebook, 288 pages
Published November 11th 2010 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

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Mike (the Paladin)
I could, if I allowed myself, get very involved about peripheral subjects that circulate around this book. I will try to avoid "most" of that. I will say that if (among other things) you're the kind of person who has an "Emperor's New Clothes" feeling whenever you watch the news coverage of governmental matters, you might appreciate this book.

This is a fairly well written book. It revolves around a couple of stories that intersect. The book opens with (and these aren't spoilers as you can get a
Carol Storm
Apr 26, 2014 Carol Storm rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Explosive thriller, combines brutal violence, scorching social commentary, and a villain whose downfall is almost as inevitable and terrifying as a Greek tragedy!

One thing to bear in mind about Andrew Klavan is that he's really two people at once. There's the adrenalin junkie who loves violence and writes the meanest, tightest thrillers this side of James "LA Confidential" Ellroy, and the best gunfights this side of Stephen "Dirty White Boys" Hunter.

Then there's the really annoying Andrew Klava
Jan 19, 2012 Katie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, mystery, 2012
This book took me ages to get into. It wasn't the plot (which was pretty adequate verging on interesting towards the end) and the writing is fine - it was easy to see how other people can like it and how it got all the nice reviews on the front cover. The characters, whilst nothing original (petty thief who is really a good guy, corrupt cops/politicians, FBI agents on an illegal mission, shady foreigner, teenage gangstas; a good, virtuous woman in a bad neighbourhood) were all OK: I can't really ...more
Jun 02, 2011 Loren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition


Unspoken rules guide so much of life, and one such guideline is that polite people don't discuss politics or religion. Now, while I might disagree with that rule when it comes to dinner parties (where so much of the conversation is deadly dull), I have to admit that it generally holds true in narrative fiction. Most authors lack the panache or subtlety to address either subject without turning their stories into screeds. So when both show up in the
Tammy Wooding
Aug 05, 2016 Tammy Wooding marked it as books-i-have  ·  review of another edition

A nationwide manhunt is underway for John Shannon, a petty criminal framed for murder. But he's convinced he won't get caught. He's hiding in the ruins of a city destroyed by a terrible flood, and, thanks to a mysterious foreigner calling himself the Identity Man, he has a new face, new papers, and a new life. But the city is crawling with corruption. Crooked politicians, gangsters and dirty cops are everywhere, and for some reason Shannon doesn't understand, all of them want him dead. John Shan

Dec 19, 2012 Melanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
Interesingly written, grew to like the characters. One man's fall from grace and another man's search for redemption.
Ian Connel
Jan 09, 2017 Ian Connel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Full disclosure: I am a big fan of Andrew Klavan's show. That said, I stopped reading Werewolf Cop because I got bored.

This book started a little slow, but when it built up the characters and you got into the head of Ramsey, oh boy. It became awesome. The protagonist is a tad vanilla, which is a plot device for him to "absorb" a new identity through culture (I won't give too much away) but he is largely believable as a male character.

I don't think Klavan writes women well. They're not nearly as
Scott Kennedy
Dec 17, 2016 Scott Kennedy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
First Andrew Klavan novel I've read. I saw some of his videos on you tube and thought I'd give his fiction a go. Good redemption theme. Loved the political commentary from some of the characters, not to mention the comments on journalism!
Actually there is nothing new under the sun. Most books are just a variation of the same themes and plot points. Andrew Klaven’s latest offering, THE IDENTITY MAN is no exception to this premise. The theme here is “wanted man (John Shannon) gets a new face and a new identity, is relocated to a new city (New Orleans……or its doppelganger) to begin life anew and meets the woman of his dreams”. Sound familiar so far?

What is different and compelling about Klaven’s approach to this subject matter is
Matt Allen
Jan 07, 2014 Matt Allen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-reads
The Identity Man isn't set up to be the kind of book I'd normally like, but I enjoyed it anyway. Quite a bit.

I love dialogue. If you've read a lot of my reviews, you've probably caught that somewhere. The first line of dialogue here isn't until you've read eight percent of this book. That's a long way for narrative to have the entire spotlight. I'm glad I didn't know that going in. Even after, dialogue isn't heavy in The Identity Man. There's a lot of inner monologue here, but strangely, it work
Starr Gardinier
Oct 13, 2011 Starr Gardinier rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Andrew Klavan makes his readers believe it's possible to have a new life, to start over, to be a new 'mang' (man). Due to be incarcerated and possibly sentenced to death row for a third strike in his career as a petty thief and because of the accusation of multiple murders, John Shannon is given the opportunity many simply dream of. But from his peripheral vision and unacknowledged suspicions, Shannon knew it was too good to be true.

His new life, while pleasant in the beginning, unfolds into a
Aug 16, 2012 Jeanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With all the brass and crass, shocking, etc. of style of reading, this was depravity that was truthful. Shannon the main character a two bit theif, who never thought of life being better is accused of murder when a robbery goes wrong. The story takes an unusal turn when he gets a text that someone is on is side. His life is changed or at least he hopes it is. I like the progression of this plot has it unfolds. He is looking for redemption but for what price. It seems in real life and a good stor ...more
Stephen Gallup
Aug 04, 2013 Stephen Gallup rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Klavan's Empire of Lies , which I read earlier this year, was a fine story of redemption. This novel is just as enjoyable. Perhaps it's a bit more polished. The woodworking metaphor is obvious, but that and the overall structure make the book feel like a classic.

Characters who wrestle with fundamental problems are so much easier to accept than superheroes like, say, Jack Reacher. In this case the main character, Shannon, is a basically good if unwise guy on the wrong side of the law who has bee
Aug 30, 2016 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Klavan is a great writer. I started with his book Empire of Lies and moved on to his YA series the Homelanders. He never disappoints when it comes to a gripping, gotta-get-to-the-end thriller. This novel is a powerful piece about identity (of course), redemption, choice, and corruption.

John Shannon is a petty crook, a lockman with a love for wood carving. He sees figures and faces in the wood and has to free them. After a routine break-in goes sour, he finds himself on the run, blamed for a home
James Korsmo
Jul 30, 2013 James Korsmo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The Identity Man is a thriller. Its plot is driven by constant action, driven by unknown forces. John Shannon finds himself wanted for a crime he didn't commit, and is presented (and forced into) un-looked-for deliverance from a mysterious "identity man." Shannon has no idea why he's been given a new identity and a clean start. And he begins to settle in. But it turns out the identity isn't so new, or so clean. Has his past caught up with him? Has some other force ensnared him in something large ...more
Feb 26, 2015 Lisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015

Normally, I really like Andrew Klavan. But The Identity Man was just weak and far-fetched. In addition, it needed some serious editing. I generally am not too critical of editing issues, especially in fiction, as long as the story flows along fairly well. However, I will make my point through the use of an example:

"The last movie Shannon watched in the white room - the last DVD in the tomato can carton - was kind of stupid but kind of good, too. If anyone had been around while he was watc
This isn't the sort of book I typically read but I'd been dying to read something from Andrew Klavan ever since I heard him speak on western literature. It's possible someone more familiar with this genre would rate it lower but this hit all the right notes with me. A book that deals with morality as an actual, fundamental force in human life? And a redemption story to boot? Sign me up!

Shannon was an engaging and genuinely likeable character despite his many faults. I was often disgusted by eve
David Ketelsen
The first 16 pages of this book are dreadful. The writing style was so different from the rest of the book that it doesn't seem like Klavan wrote them himself.

Once you get past the beginning the book gets a lot more interesting. There's still some factual errors but nothing really aggravating. The main character is a likable career criminal, B&E mostly, who gets a second chance at life when things seem darkest--or does he?

The plot moves along quickly enough in this short novel to keep you in
May 19, 2016 Kristina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lucas Johnson
Jan 30, 2016 Lucas Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Can a man change his stars? Possibly, but not easily. John Shannon's odyssey begins with the concept of Identity as an indelible stain, corrupting any attempt to set out on a different course. In a hastily realized ending, he discovers that it is more like a block of wood that we shape throughout our lives. This is a realistic, but potentially daunting vision of Identity since it requires, not passive acquisition, but determined work and foresight. So how do we create a society that allows and e ...more
Sofia Nadezhdina
Jan 21, 2013 Sofia Nadezhdina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unit-2
As I picked the book from a bookstore nearby, I was doubtful that this book will be the right reading level for me. ( I am a 13 year old) But when I started reading I dove deeper and deeper into my misconception.The Identity Man is a brilliantly written novel, that contains mystery and suspence, at exactly the right balance. This was my first "Adult Book" and surprisingly i enjoyed it a lot! When I tried to figuire out and put all the puzzle pieces together, I never assumed that the ending would ...more
Jan 12, 2012 Maggard rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I remember reading a couple of Klavan's books and really liking them. And then I re-read those books and didn't like them as much, and now I've read some others I hadn't read before and didn't like them at all. What I'm trying to say is: I think we're over, you and I.

Regarding this book in particular - none of the characters were particularly interesting, the plot was hokey, and the prose was turgid. That's right, Klavan, I called your prose turgid.
Mar 10, 2013 Rhonda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Shannon is a loser, in trouble all his life, and consequently he is framed for a horrendous murder and knows his life is over. But then a text, a life-saving text, and John receives a new face, a new city, a new love, and his world turns around. Then bam! He doesn't see it coming -without a clue of who, why or when, everything falls apart in a big way and Shannon is left with his wits and hope to save the identity and life that he knows is his.
Adam Shields
Mar 21, 2012 Adam Shields rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short review: good tight thriller with an underlying theme of whether people can change. Glad to see a book by a Christian author that is able to mention ideas of redemption and the struggle of change without preaching to the reader. Of course it isn't published by a Christian publishing house and the author doesn't write Christian fiction.

my full book review is on my blog at
Mar 16, 2014 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would have stopped reading this book, I didn't like the writing, but it was a library promotion "blind date with a book" and there was a survey to fill out about our impressions, so I slogged through. Lo and behold the last quarter of the book got exciting and helped to make up for the earlier part. Can't say I would recommend it, however.
Clive Parkin
Dec 12, 2014 Clive Parkin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
Rough as guts with some truly awful writing. The adage "show don't tell" has been quietly ignored with many (unpleasant) characters thinking out exactly the things that would happen. In amongst this is some potential that suggests an editor and 2-3 further drafts could have made this far more effective
Jul 05, 2011 Paige rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
Definitely the best book I've been through on the beach so far. Quick read, quick pacing, and the first thriller I've read in a good long time that managed to do something different from the rest of the genre. On top of that you have a host of characters you can't help but rooting for and a damn good ending. Well worth reading.
Bad, bad people. Bad, bad world. Damaging flood besides. Looks like the perp has somehow involved himself in a what looks like a set up which will make him a three time loser and jail set up for life. then something happens to possibly offset this.... Good redemptive ending offering hope and expectations.
Marc Friedman
Apr 02, 2015 Marc Friedman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyed the book....made me think, which is something that I like in a novel, and something that not many can do. Imagine completely changing your identity, completely, where you can start a new life unencumbered with past troubles. Interesting concept to say the least. A though provoking read.
Feb 08, 2011 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pretty good crime novel with an unusual protagonist. Klavan has a feel for the nitty-gritty streets and an ear for dialogue. Set in a city that sounds a lot like New Orleans, Identity Man features some well-defined bad guys and a hero that's - well - flawed.

A fast and good read for almost anyone.
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