Tag Archives: The Shadow Tracer

Tropcielka Cieni: The Shadow Tracer Polish edition


Yesterday the postal carrier knocked on my door, handed me a box, and said, “Books. Yours?”

It never gets old. Ever.

I got to show him this one: the Polish edition of The Shadow Tracer. The title translates as “Shadow Tracker.”

The shoutline, run through Google’s meat grinder of a translator, comes out as, “Peekaboo to death and life.” I imagine a Polish speaker would rephrase that to match the shoutline on the British edition: “Hide and seek. Live or die.”

New Mexico: Shadow Tracer country

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This was my morning view earlier this week: New Mexico from 38,000 feet. For a sense of scale, the white expanse is White Sands National Monument and the White Sands Missile Range. It’s twenty miles wide. And the snowcapped speck to the right is a 12,000 foot mountain.

Not only did I spend many summers in this part of the country as a kid (sand-boarding the dunes at White Sands is spectacular fun), but I set a big chunk of The Shadow Tracer there. No spoilers, but Sarah Keller has much less love than I do for this stretch of scorching desert.

Editing: the Shadow Tracer checklist

shadow tracer uk

The Shadow Tracer is now out around the world. The cover is bright and shiny, and I hope that the prose and the story are too. But the book didn’t start out that way. As always, the first draft was plug ugly: fat, bland, overwritten, superficial, and confusing.

Today I found the revision checklist that I sent to my editor along with that first draft. For a peek into how I revise, have a look at what I thought about the novel nearly a year before it first hit the bookshelves.

I’ve redacted a few plot points to avoid spoilers. And you’ll notice one big thing: my working title for the novel was not The Shadow Tracer.

Here are my first thoughts on revising the rough draft of Untraceable:


1. Cut the word count; clear out all the underbrush and get rid of missteps and dead ends; straighten out all the plot lines that (obviously) were being worked out in my own mind as I wrote the draft — get rid of duplication, reorganize the action to maximize revealing plot points (e.g. that the dead FBI agent XXXX; revelation that Sarah XXXX). Either develop half-formed ideas or cut them.

2. Dramatically improve the characterization of the major players — dialogue, personality, behavior, the whole shebang.

3. Clarify the personalities of the antagonists (primarily the trio — Grissom, Reavy, and Fell) and their goals, plus the conflicts that develop among them.

4. Develop (and clarify!) the relationship between Sarah Keller and Michael Lawless — make it tentative and fraught with uncertainty at the beginning, though they both respect and doubt each other — then strengthen it throughout the story, till XXXX by the end.

5. Get rid of the half-developed idea that Zoe has second sight — pull it back so she’s really just an unusually observant, perceptive child, who sees things the adults don’t understand — it’s not in any way paranormal, but it is on the edge of eerie.

6. Clarify Lawless’s role in Sarah’s current attempt to escape — how much is official U.S. Marshal business, how much is his own initiative.

7. Reduce the number of points of view: restrict them (except for brief and necessary exceptions) to Sarah, Lawless, Harker, Fell, and Danisha.

8. Figure out whether there are enough twists at the end!

Readers: You’ll have to tell me if you think I followed my own advice.

Apple Store tonight. Plus Crime Time & Crime Squad!


Tonight in London I will be speaking at the Apple Store Regent Street. 7 p.m. The event is free. If you’re in the area come on down and hear me, Tim Weaver, and Laura Wilson talk about crime. In our books. Barry Forshaw leads the discussion.

Meet the Authors: MG Gardiner, Tim Weaver and Laura Wilson
Tuesday, 10th December 7 p.m.
Apple Store Regent Street
235 Regent Street
London, W1B 2EL
020 7153 9000

Other book/crime related things:

Want tips on how to disappear? I have an article in Crime Time. The Shadow Tracer: Going Underground.

And at CrimeSquad.com there’s a review of The Shadow Tracer and an interview with me. The review says: “The Shadow Tracer’ is Formula One racing in book form.”

Which is pretty darn fine with me.

Shadow Tracer reviews: Financial Times, Book Oxygen, Buzz

Now that The Shadow Tracer is out in Britain, a few more reviews have come in:

shadow tracer uk

“Her best book yet… As ever with Gardiner, we are ineluctably drawn into the plight of the heroine, and the orchestration of tension is exceptional.” Barry Forshaw, Financial Times.

“Gardiner writes tough like one of the boys, and Shadow Tracer is a real, stay-up-all-night thriller that should be the success that it deserves. Ten out of Ten.” Mark Timlin, Buzz Magazine.

The Shadow Tracer is an excellent thriller, which shows that high tension and a fast-paced narrative are not the preserve of fighting men and their guns… Sarah is so appealing that even when the dark parts of her past are illuminated, she keeps you reading. I hope we will see more of her… Like all the best thrillers [Gardiner’s] are fun as well as shocking – and moving.” N.J. Cooper, Book Oxygen.

All of which are mighty nice. Now ‘scuse me while I put on some Kool and the Gang and celebrate.

On sale now in the UK: The Shadow Tracer

shadow tracer uk

Today The Shadow Tracer is published in Britain. So go out and get yourself a copy. Or ten. Don’t let me stop you.

And yes, in Britain I am now publishing as M.G. Gardiner. Because the Brits love crime writer names that involve initials. It makes me feel all thrillery.

Why are you still reading this post? Go get the book.

Event alert: Apple Store Regent Street

regentstreet_hero_2x This week The Shadow Tracer will be published in Britain. As part of the book launch, next Tuesday, December 10th, I’ll be at the Apple Store on Regent Street in London. I’ll join authors Tim Weaver and Laura Wilson to talk about crime fiction. Barry Forshaw will lead the discussion. The event is free but seating is limited, so the Apple Store urges people to register and reserve a place.

Meet the Authors: MG Gardiner, Tim Weaver and Laura Wilson Leading crime fiction expert Barry Forshaw (Nordic Noir, Death in a Cold Climate) is joined by authors MG Gardiner (China Lake, The Shadow Tracer), Tim Weaver (Vanished, Never Coming Back) and Laura Wilson (A Willing Victim, The Riot) to discuss their careers, latest work, and the genre. You’ll also have the chance to put your questions to the writers at an event crime fiction fans won’t want to miss. Arrive early as seating is limited.

Tuesday, 10th December 7 p.m.
Apple Store Regent Street
235 Regent Street
London, W1B 2EL
020 7153 9000

Kirkus Reviews Best of 2013


Well, this has made my week. Kirkus Reviews has named The Shadow Tracer one of the Best Books of 2013. I’m honored!

When I got the news, I was on my knees cleaning out the refrigerator with a dishrag. The glamour never ends.

The Shadow Tracer: reviews in The Beachcomber, Audiophile


The Shadow Tracer has received a couple of nice reviews, which are putting me in a mighty fine frame of mind.

The Beachcomber magazine has named my novel an Editor’s Pick, along with new books by Linwood Barclay and Spencer Quinn. I am thoroughly happy to be in their fine company.

It calls The Shadow Tracer a “Complex and exciting tale about a skip tracer and her daughter on the run from both the FBI and a truly scary religious cult.”

And Audiophile magazine reviews the audiobook edition of the novel: 

“Tanya Eby’s narration of this suspense-filled novel is compelling… Eby sets a fast pace for this action-filled adventure in which Sarah and Zoe find themselves on the run from two parties: the religious cult directed by Zoe’s grandfather and the FBI agent who is using Zoe as bait to close in on the cult. Eby captures the essence of the strong and resourceful Sarah, the resilient and endearing Zoe, and the friends who support them, as well as the sinister cult members.”

I never doubted that Tanya Eby would do a terrific job narrating the audiobook — she also narrated Brilliance Audio’s editions of the Evan Delaney novels. I’m so glad she has given such a convincing voice to Sarah Keller.

The Shadow Tracer: Providence Journal, Florida Times-Union

‘Scuse me, but I gotta holler. The Providence Journal says some awfully nice things about The Shadow Tracer:


“Meg Gardiner is always good, but she’s never been better than in the beautifully executed ‘The Shadow Tracer’ (Dutton, $26.95, 368 pages). Turnaround, as they say, is fair play, a lesson for Sarah Keller, a ‘skip tracer’ specializing in finding people who don’t want to be found. Imagine Sarah’s shock when her daughter’s trip to the emergency room, reveals the secrets of her own hidden past she must now confront as the hunter becomes the hunted.

With her latest, Gardiner firmly plants herself in the hallowed suburban nightmarish grounds of Lisa Gardner and Harlan Coben. ‘The Shadow Tracer’ is a stunning achievement in storytelling, as riveting as it is relentless.”

And the Florida Times-Union says:

“Meg Gardiner’s latest novel carries on a long tradition of runaway pacing, high-wire tension and near non-stop action established in her previous 10 novels.”

It also notes: “The larger question explored is how connected technology has made us to electronic surveillance, the digital economy and even our willing divulgence of private information on social networking sites. The reader will recognize that we have willingly surrendered our right to privacy in the modern world and will probably never get it back.”


Now I’m going to run in circles in the back yard, and maybe do a herky jump or two. Avert your eyes.

Today in New York

1. Several firsts: Today on the streets of New York City I saw…

  • Somebody wearing Google Glass. The dude stared at me staring at him, and he almost walked into a telephone pole.
  • A shrine to Ganesh.
  • The Oscar-Mayer Wienermobile. And before you ask, (1) I didn’t get a whistle, (2) I didn’t get a photo, and (3) I didn’t get to drive it. Because, if I had been quick enough to get a whistle and a photo, I would have also been quick enough to Wienerjack the thing, and would this moment be driving it at high speed across the Brooklyn Bridge, whooping and showering the city with hotdogs.

2. Kindle owners: The Shadow Tracer is currently available for the discounted price of $11.04. This is apparently thanks to yesterday’s federal court decision in the ebook pricing case. Who says lawyers never do anything nice for you? So go on and buy it, buy it right now before I run out of breath from the panic of self-promotion, buy it right here.

3.  Mystery Scene magazine has named The Shadow Tracer one of its Eight Sizzling Summer Reads of 2013: “Meg Gardiner knows her stuff. It may just be a chase, but it’s one helluva chase. Pass the popcorn.”

Happy to.

Five things I’ve heard in the last week

Here are some odds and ends I’ve heard from people at book signings, or have read in emails. Some are odder than others.

1. “You’re from California? Do you know Starsky and Hutch?”

2. “Your novel Chain Mill made me depressed. Please repair the relationship between the characters. Thank you for attending to this matter.”

(For the record, I’ve written a novel titled Kill Chain, but nothing called Chain Mill.)

3. “I’ve been buying your books at the used bookstore. But I loved that one… what was it called? The Neighbor? So I thought I’d buy a new book for once.” When I told this gal that I wasn’t Lisa Gardner, her face blanched. She glanced at my pen, which was hovering above the copy of The Shadow Tracer I was about to inscribe to her. Then she clearly decided it would be too embarrassing to grab the book back and get a refund. She told me to go ahead and sign it, but she didn’t look happy.

(I’m not the only author this happens to, of course. Lee Child told me that he once got halfway through a radio interview, only to realize that the host thought he was Lincoln Child.)

4. Radio host: “Sorry I keep calling you ‘Miss Meg,’ but I have no idea how to pronounce your last name.”

5. “If you lived in England, how come you don’t have a funny accent?”

I don’t know how to answer that one. In England, everybody thinks I do.

BookPage, KJFF Radio, and Independence Day

On KJFF Radio 1400AM it’s Thriller Week, and I’m one of the authors that Stu McMillian is interviewing. You can catch my interview here.

At BookPage, I’ve written a guest article about the heroine of my new novel: Who Is the Shadow Tracer?

And because it’s the Fourth of July, here’s Ray Charles singing “America the Beautiful.”

Oklahoma City remembers


One of the first scenes in The Shadow Tracer takes place at the Oklahoma City National Memorial. I visited the memorial last summer and wrote about it at the time.


Here are a couple of photos I took. They made it into the book. If you’re wondering why Sarah Keller thinks about the mementos left in remembrance at the memorial, this is why.