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Shadow Man: A Biography of Lewis Miles Archer

4.7 of 5 stars 4.70  ·  rating details  ·  27 ratings  ·  9 reviews
According to Dashiell Hammett, a shadow man is "meant to blend in, to disappear by being always there." Hammett knew something about disappearing. Behind the shadows thrown by "Miles Archer," his fictional detective, was a very real detective—his partner in San Francisco, Lewis Miles Archer, a private detective so private that, when he went missing in February of 1929, no...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published November 12th 2012 by Civil Coping Mechanisms (first published October 31st 2012)
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The Big Sleep by Raymond ChandlerThe Maltese Falcon by Dashiell HammettThe Long Goodbye by Raymond ChandlerFarewell, My Lovely by Raymond ChandlerThe Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
Best Noir
187th out of 478 books — 502 voters
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Contemporary Cult Fiction
41st out of 117 books — 144 voters

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Peter Tieryas
Adding the YouTube Video of the Review:

Shadow Man is noir at its best. Gabriel Blackwell’s debut novel isn’t just a murder mystery, but an exploration of metaphysics, identity, and historical ontology. It’s a fast-paced read and after I first finished the book, I watched Maltese Falcon, read the book again, and like any great mystery case, saw so much more with the layers stripped away. I marveled at the attention to detail, the meticulous facts giving us...more
Amber Sparks
If you're a fan of Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler, or of the film versions of The Thin Man, The Maltese Falcon, or The Big Sleep - or even if you're just a fan of the hard-boiled gumshoe genre - you'll hugely enjoy this incredibly witty, incredibly colorful, incredibly complex puzzle box of a novel. Blackwell brings false leads and minor characters to life with a sure and snappy voice and an ear for the language and the tropes of the classic detective that makes this cerebral fare quite fu...more
I like Blackwell as a person, and this book does nothing to make me think that's a mistake; while I was initially a little annoyed with the design and printing of the book—my cover was cut poorly, and I thought the decision to give so much of the book in italics and with a somewhat arbitrary margin was a little annoying. But a month since I read the book, I remember very little of that but still chuckle at some of the forced metaphors of Blackwell’s hard boiled style; really, the stylistic ventr...more
Joe Sacksteder
The thing that I found most interesting about this book was how it shattered the comfortable "connection" that the reader is traditionally "supposed" to feel with the main character(s). Switching from notes to notes back to the true Shadow Man of the narrator was callous in the best possible way.

I really want to teach a class called "True Lies: Un-truth in Non-fiction," and this would be a text I'd consider. I love when research gets so obsessive that we have to question the narrator's intentio...more
I reviewed this book already for Ampersand Books. It's easily found. And much more in depth. I will just say that if you are a fan of pulp fiction, and in particular Hammett and Chandler, you need to read this book. There are some novels that when you put down, you just can't shut up about them. It seems like every other day I am telling someone to check out Shadow Man. Blackwell pulls of the niftiest trick. Be pays tribute without being derivative. He adopts the manner of speech, the tough guy...more
Londyn Kate
Won book, signed by author...awesome read, interesting from the very first page!
Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler would both be pulling their hair out on this one as Blackwell out noir’s noir. Somewhere in between fact, fiction, and some third thing is this biographical fiction of fiction based on biography. Blackwell pulls together the fictional worlds of Hammett and Chandler (somehow weaving almost every complex plot of theirs that I’ve heard of into a single meta-conspiracy) and mashes it all up with fictionalized versions of the actual worlds of Hammett and Chandler...more
Ampersand Books
The problem with writing pulp is there’s nothing new under the sun. It’s all been done, you’re flogging a dead horse, can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I mean, it’s a cliché. No matter what you think you are bringing to the table, you can’t beat two men who got there before you. Chandler and Hammett arrived at the buffet early, ate fast, and left nothing but scraps for the rest of us. (Some reports place a third man at brunch. Usually James M. Cain. But these reports can’t be substantiated, det...more
I think this book undoubtedly succeeds at what it attempts to do. It takes classic noir and extends the stories and authors of the genre until they fray and start to unweave.

It asks a lot of the reader, I wish that I had a little more inkling of that before I started. As it was, I'm positive I didn't get everything out of this book. I will definitely read more of Blackwell, but hopefully go in with eyes wide open.
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