Thursday, February 24, 2022

ARC Review: The Night Shift by Alex Finlay

The Night Shift

Alex Finlay
Publication: Minotaur Books (March 1, 2022)

Description: From the author of the breakout thriller Every Last Fear, comes Alex Finlay's electrifying next novel The Night Shift, about a pair of small-town murders fifteen years apart―and the ties that bind them.

“The night was expected to bring tragedy.” So begins one of the most highly-anticipated thrillers in recent years.

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 New Jersey, four teenagers working late at the store are attacked. Only one inexplicably survives. Police quickly identify a suspect, the boyfriend of one of the victims, who flees and is never seen again.

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

In the aftermath of the latest crime, three lives intersect: the lone survivor of the Blockbuster massacre who’s forced to relive the horrors of her tragedy; the brother of the fugitive accused, who’s convinced the police have the wrong suspect; and FBI agent Sarah Keller who must delve into the secrets of both nights―stirring up memories of teen love and lies―to uncover the truth about murders on the night shift.

Twisty, poignant, and redemptive, The Night Shift is a story about the legacy of trauma and how the broken can come out on the other side, and it solidifies Finlay as one of the new leading voices in the world of thrillers.

My Thoughts: This excellent thriller begins on New Year's Eve 1999 when someone comes into a Blockbuster video store and murders the manager and three of the teenaged employees, leaving only one badly injured survivor.

The story leaps ahead fifteen years and we learn that the survivor Ella has turned into a therapist who takes too many drugs and has sexual encounters with strangers. Clearly, she hasn't put those past events behind her. 

Then she is called by Dale Steadman, who was a mentor for her when she was a student and who is now the high school principal, asking for her help because someone walked into an ice cream shop and murdered three young women leaving only a single survivor who refuses to talk to the authorities. Jesse Duvall is in foster care, is a budding journalist, and has a strong interest in the Blockbuster killings.

Eight-and-a-half-month pregnant FBI Agent Sara Keller is also called in because of the possible connections to the Blockbuster killings because the prime suspect was let out of jail on parole and disappeared. There is a federal warrant out for him. Vince Whitaker was identified through an anonymous phone tip as being at the Blockbuster that evening. After he disappears, the murder weapon is found in his school locker. 

Another viewpoint character is Chris Ford who is a lawyer and a public defender. He was taken from his abusive father's home after his brother Vince disappeared. He was adopted by a loving couple, grew up, and became a lawyer. He has never given up searching for his brother because he can't believe Vince would have killed anyone.

The story weaves its way among the various viewpoint characters who are all well-rounded and interesting people. The clues to what really happened fifteen years ago at the Blockbuster and what happened now at the ice cream shop are gradually revealed.

This was a real page-turner. I couldn't put it down until I reached the very last page whereupon I heaved a sigh of relief. 

Favorite Quote:
She said there's a saying, "The sheep spends its life worrying about the wolf, only to be eaten by the farmer."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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