The Shadow People

Available from Polis Books

A riveting, twisty psychological thriller from acclaimed author Joe Clifford, perfect for fans of The Whisper Man.

Brandon Cossey is finishing his last semester as an undergrad when he learns his childhood best friend, Jacob Balfour, has committed suicide. The news about Jacob, who had long battled schizophrenia, does not come as a surprise—but the bizarre details surrounding his death do. Jacob was found several states away, in a quarry, burned alive. Brandon returns to his hometown and discovers Jacob had been moonlighting as an amateur DIY reporter. As sole author and editor of the homemade zine Illuminations, Jacob has been covering a wide array of conspiracy theories. When Jacob’s estranged grandfather, Francis, who also suffers from schizophrenia (but chooses to go untreated), arrives for the funeral, he tells Brandon that Jacob didn’t kill himself; Jacob stumbled upon a secret so deadly he was murdered to keep it quiet. Soon afterwards, Brandon’s life takes a turn for the strange. He notices odd cars and lookalikes following him, his personal property is hacked and stolen, and Brandon can no longer trust what he thinks he sees. As his grasp on reality recedes and falters, Brandon must question whether a sinister gang of doppelgängers, whom Jacob dubbed “the Shadow People,” are really responsible. Events conspire to put Brandon on the road with Francis, as the unlikely duo travel across the upper Midwest attempting to learn the truth about Jacob’s death. Part conspiracy thriller, part horror noir, The Shadow People mines the rich depths of perception and paranoia, asking the tough question: when you can’t believe yourself, who can you trust?


“Impressive…Clifford does a great job of facilitating engagement with his lead and at tossing in satisfying twists. Blake Crouch fans should take note.”
Publishers Weekly Starred Review
“Clifford wields clever use of an unreliable narrator, gritty portrayals of those marginalized by mental illness, and a masterful twist to create a constantly shifting reality.”

“A brilliantly written novel: dark, mysterious, and gritty, where nothing is as it seems, and jolting twists abound. Fans of psychological thrillers by Dean Koontz and Stephen King will utterly devour The Shadow People and demand more from Clifford, fast!”
—Mark Greaney #1 New York Times bestselling author of Relentless and The Gray Man

“Joe Clifford invites you to take a gander at the distorted images reflected in the funhouse mirror, and witness what happens when those images take three-dimensional form.”
—Gary Phillips, author of Matthew Henson and the Ice Temple of Harlem

Sign up for Joe's Newsletter: