The Identity Man
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The Identity Man

3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  178 ratings  ·  50 reviews
“A compelling moral fable in the shape of a gritty, twist-filled thriller.”—Wall Street Journal

John Shannon is a petty thief on the run. A three-time loser framed for murder, he knows that he’s facing life in prison—or death by lethal injection. Then, a bizarre text message draws him to a meeting in the dark of night. A foreigner who calls himself the Identity Man offers S...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published November 8th 2011 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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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...more
Carol Storm
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...more
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


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...more
Matt Allen
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...more
Interesingly written, grew to like the characters. One man's fall from grace and another man's search for redemption.
James Korsmo
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
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...more
Starr Reina
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...more
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...more
Stephen Gallup
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 been...more
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
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...more
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.
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...more
Sofia Nadezhdina
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
Rob Messenger
rambles to a good end, I suppose...
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.
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.
Adam Shields
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
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.
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.
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.
Solid thriller continues Klavan's emphasis on personal redemption. Not at the level of "Empire of Lies," but still very good.
Jeanette Burchaski
This was a decent suspense novel, which I listened to on audiobook. When an author can get me to root for a "bad guy" (no matter how misunderstood), that is a sign of good writing. I enjoyed this and will be adding other Klavan works to my reading list.
The Identity Man is a thoughtful, deliberate thriller—one with more internal, psychological conflict than car chases and shootouts.

Read the full review at
Ron King
I enjoyed watching the transformation in the main characters life. Quite by accident, he becomes a caring, thoughtful man, overcoming a difficult past and making decisions that shape his future! Enjoyable read for me.
Joe O'c
Very Good; a small time criminal has his looks and identity changed by an unknown benefactor, then finds himself inserted into a corrupt city and manipulated to try and expose the powers that be
Enjoyable story. I can't remember the details of the story, but I did finish it and I remember thinking what a nice ending (I finished it over a month ago and forgot to put it into this site :-))
Corrupt politicians and cops; what could go wrong??
Slow start but accelerates quickly. Good read (definitely not PC) and of course there is a political edge, it's Klavan.
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Small Government ...: The Identity Man by Andrew Klavan 34 11 Jan 18, 2012 02:25PM  
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