Thursday, January 11, 2024

Book Review: The Night Shift

It’s New Year’s Eve 1999. Y2K is expected to end in chaos: planes falling from the sky, elevators plunging to earth, world markets collapsing. A digital apocalypse. None of that happens. But at a Blockbuster Video in Linden, New Jersey, four teenage girls working the night shift are attacked. Only one survives. Police quickly identify a suspect who flees and is never seen again.

Fifteen years later, in the same town, four teenage employees working late at an ice cream store are attacked, and again only one makes it out alive.

Both surviving victims recall the killer speaking only a few final words. . . . “Goodnight, pretty girl.”

In the aftermath, three lives intersect: the survivor of the Blockbuster massacre who’s forced to relive her tragedy; the brother of the original suspect, who’s convinced the police have it wrong; and the FBI agent, who’s determined to solve both cases. On a collision course toward the truth, all three lives will forever be changed, and not everyone will make it out alive.

The Night Shift by Alex Finlay was published May 1, 2022, from Minotaur Books.

This was a hot-read at our libraries when it was first published in hardcover, so when it was coming out in trade paperback I picked it for my branch's Mystery Book club for February 2024. Hopefully the group will enjoy it as it is definitely an interesting premise for a crime investigation.

I certainly enjoyed this one a lot. The bulk of the story is told after the ice cream store incident, covering a three day period of time with three primary narrative view-points. It allows Finlay to move the story from various angles and to keep the reader guessing as details are slowly revealed about what happened in the two crimes.

Like any good mystery/crime story/thriller, there are misdirections and false-clues. However, Finlay makes sure never contradict the underlying facts which are presented. Any misconceptions come from the characters as they try to figure things out. In the end, the overall logic of the plot holds water. The reader is left with a very good story.

Alex Finlay is definitely an author who I will seek out again in the future.

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