Joshua and the Shadow of Death

Fiction - Thriller - Conspiracy
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 11/16/2018
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Gary McPherson (1966-) was born in Sacramento, California, and spent most of his childhood in Westminster, Ca. For most of his adult life, Gary has lived in North Carolina. He and his wife have lived in Charlotte, NC for the past twenty-six years. Together they have traveled much of the U.S. and have been enjoyed visiting parts of the globe. It is Gary's love of travel and meeting new people and cultures that have led him to change his career from Computer Engineer to Author. He enjoys taking memories and moments to create characters that transition and grow as they work their way through a fictional world born from actual experiences.

Gary's favorite writing genre is mystery/thrillers. His first novel, "Joshua and the Shadow of Death" released Oct 30, 2018

Also, Gary has written a satire book of anecdotal short stories titled "Country Boy" under the pen name Lucius McCray.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Joshua and the Shadow of Death is a tense work of thriller fiction by author Gary McPherson, and the first book in the Berserker Series. The series' title hints at the work of central character Doctor Joshua Zeev, a childhood development psychiatrist who is examining a condition nicknamed Berserker Syndrome. Children with the condition fly off into fits of blind rage, and Joshua thrives when working with two half-brothers at an orphanage in North Carolina. When the youngest of the brothers is cured, the adopted parents of the older boy continue to allow Dr Zeev to try to fix Harold. But as Harold grows into a man, his adopted father commits suicide, throwing everyone into a flurry of intrigue, suspense and a ticking time bomb of rage.

As Joshua tries to unpick what may have caused his dear friend Richard Brown to kill himself, so begins a fascinating tale that is conceptually very well created. Overall, Gary McPherson’s work is atmospheric, creating a slow burn of terror as we wait to see whether poor Harold will be able to contain his grief-stricken rage. Placing a psychiatrist in the role of detective adds a new and unique perspective to the unveiling of the plot, but also makes Joshua fallible in his ineptitude, which makes for a realistic lead character you can empathize with. Overall, Joshua and the Shadow of Death is a compelling psychological thriller, both entertaining and chilling. Perfect for fans of the genre.

Jack Magnus

Joshua and the Shadow of Death: The Berserker Series, Book 1 is a psychological thriller novel written by Gary McPherson. Dr. Joshua Zeev had given up his professional practice, friends and family in North Carolina to accompany Barbara and Richard Brown, a wealthy Malibu couple who had committed themselves to making a home for Harold, a young boy who seemed more demonic than any patient Joshua had ever encountered. Harold and his half-brother had been surrendered by their mother who had traumatic issues of her own to deal with. Both children had exhibited aspects of Berserker Syndrome, Harry especially so. While the couple had been able to adopt Harold, April had insisted on retaining custody of her other son, Bill. Harold was large for his age, but his ferocity and anger made him seem more of an adult than a child when he was aroused. Joshua alone knew how to help the troubled boy, how to take him to their special place where the boy was able to work through his issues and regain control.

Gary McPherson’s conspiracy thriller novel, Joshua and the Shadow of Death: The Berserker Series, Book 1, was of particular interest to me for its focus on Berserker Syndrome and the efforts jointly made by Harold and his psychiatrist to help him learn to keep it under control. McPherson’s plot is ingenious, and his depiction of the relationship between Harold and Joshua is masterful. I especially enjoyed seeing how Joshua also comes of age, as it were, throughout the book and begins to develop a social persona that is separate from his lifelong commitment to his work. Both he and Harold are marvelous characters, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of them in the next book in the series. Joshua and the Shadow of Death: The Berserker Series, Book 1 is most highly recommended.

Samantha Gregory

Joshua and the Shadow of Death by Gary McPherson is the story of a doctor named Joshua Zeev who works with a young patient called Harold. Harold is the product of an incestuous relationship and has spent time in care before being adopted. He has a condition dubbed Berserker syndrome where he loses control and lashes out, acting violently. Joshua is trying to figure out the cause. His half brother Bill exhibited the same symptoms as a child, but has since recovered with help. They were both separated from their mother, who has disappeared. She left Bill at an orphanage and gave Harold up for adoption. She obviously has suffered from what happened to her and could not cope with her two sons.

Gary McPherson has written an interesting book with Joshua and the Shadow of Death. His use of hypnotherapy to calm Harold is an interesting idea, creating a peaceful place in his mind to help him both express the rage and calm down from it. Harold is an interesting character and the story does look at nature over nurture. Harold was conceived from an incestuous relationship and his mother suffered from it. He was adopted by a loving couple, but that rage was still there inside him. There is a time jump from when Harold is young until he is a teenager. I would have liked to have read a bit more about the incidents in between, but overall I think it was a good story, with a good plot.

Kim Anisi

Joshua Zeev, the protagonist of Joshua and the Shadow of Death by Gary McPherson, is a childhood development psychiatrist. He has been living with the Brown family for 18 years to work with their adopted son Harold, who has violent episodes (during which he turns into a more or less unstoppable Berserker, who loses control over what he is doing). Harold’s brother, who was not released to be adopted, used to have the same problem and Joshua “cured” him. Harold is a long-term project and while the Berserker seems to be contained most of the time, Joshua starts to wonder whether his methods had any effect on Harold at all. But then something horrible happens: Harold witnesses the suicide of his father, Richard Brown. Over the years, Richard had turned into Joshua’s best friend, so when he and the family read the note Richard leaves them, it is clear to him that he needs to solve the mystery surrounding the suicide which might, in the end, not have been a voluntary suicide after all.

I enjoyed the plot of Joshua and the Shadow of Death by Gary McPherson and would read another book in the series. The plot is more focused on finding out what had really caused Richard to kill himself. That’s interesting enough, especially with all the twists and turns along the way, but when the main characters are a psychiatrist and a man with a special problem, I would have liked to read more about these aspects. However, I found the novel to be well thought through and different from what I’ve read so far. I also loved the little bit of love thrown into the mix – it was a sweet little side plot and I appreciate it a lot when authors don’t overdo this part of a book (e.g. by making it all about naked skin and explicit sex!). It was just right, and fitted into the whole plot perfectly! Joshua and the Shadow of Death is an exciting story, hard to put down because you simply needed to know what really happened and who was responsible for what happened.