PLOT: 4.5/5 CHARACTERS: 4.5/5 MYSTERY & THRILL: 4.5/5 ENTERTAINMENT: 4.5/5
“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”
– Alex Finlay, The Night Shift
I love my audiobooks, and it wouldn’t be wrong to say that they are a part and parcel of my daily life. Since I had read my fair share of children’s books and contemporary romances in recent days, I thought it’ll be good to go back to one of my favourite genres – mystery and thrillers.
A quick search led me to the audiobook of The Night Shift by Alex Finlay, whose blurb got my curiosity piqued right away.
What to expect?
Expect a suspense-filled mystery thriller that links two mass murder killings. Expect crime fiction that has both mystery and drama. Expect a fast-paced medium-length read (300+ pages).
Who can read?
The book can be picked up by beginners as the language is simple and the writing is fast-paced. That being said, it will be enjoyed by voracious and regular readers equally.
Summary of The Night Shift
The year 1999 saw everyone bitten by the Y2K bug. The world was encountering a unique challenge, and everyone was expecting a digital collapse; a technological apocalypse, if you will.
But while that doesn’t happen, something else does.
Something gruesome enough to shock an entire city and its residents.
On the night of New Year’s Eve 1999, at the Blockbuster Video store in Linden, New Jersey, four teenage girls are ruthlessly attacked. While one of them survives the butchering, the other three die, along with the store manager who was also fatefully doomed on that night.
The police act quickly and grab the suspect only to see him flee and never be seen again.
Until fifteen years later, the same pattern follows. Four teenage employees of an ice cream store are attacked during the night shift, and only one of them survives.
Another similarity – both the surviving victims recall hearing a cryptic and diabolical final adieu from the killer, “Goodnight, pretty girl…”
As the investigations begin, some people get inevitably sucked into the mystery. People whose lives will now be forever changed by the outcome of the gruesome events.
An FBI agent who wants to solve both the crimes, a criminal defense lawyer who is the brother of the original suspect and the two survivors of both the killings.
When it comes to mystery and suspense, the book serves them both in generous doses. The reader is hooked right at the beginning and stays so until the end. The mystery is revealed in layers, with many twists and turns bound to keep the reader second-guessing.
The pace is fast. The chapters are short and crisp, with most of them ending on cliffhangers. Unlike some books which use a lot of gore and horror to amplify the crimes, The Night Shift thankfully refrains from doing so.
The author makes use of multiple plots enabling the reader to speculate the chain of events as they took place, as well as ponder over the who and the why part of the mystery. The narration oscillates between different points of view, adding layers and mystery to the overall narrative.
The characters are all well-crafted. They are dynamic and relatable. Here, the character of Jesse, (the ice-cream parlour killings survivor) deserves a special mention. There is so much packed into her young character. Her actions, mannerisms, motives, and mind games, all leave the reader confused and wanting for more.
“She studies Jesse. If she’s not guilty, she’s going to make one hell of a journalist someday. Ella also has a feeling that there is much more she doesn’t know about this girl. Things she may not want to know.”
The characters come from different backgrounds and have their own stories running parallel to the investigation, but these stories which often take the form of their personal lives, do not crowd the narration. Instead, they make the characters flawed, relatable, and all the more human.
What did I like the most?
The best part of the book is how it gives you those serial-killer vibes without actually revealing much. Almost every other character is on the suspect radar and the reader is always second-guessing.
What could have been better?
The book talks about the New Year’s Eve 1999 in a big way, but while there is a connect with the events of the past, most of the story connects to and takes place in the present day. I would have loved it if the book had more history and action from that decade.
In the end
The Night Shift is an unputdownable thriller that narrates the story of two teenage mass killings that takes place fifteen years apart. With well-rounded characters, fast narration, multiple points of view, intriguing backstories, and layers of mystery, the book makes for a highly entertaining read. Much recommended to lovers of thrillers and mystery.
Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of The Night Shift by Alex Finlay using the link below.