The Night Shift by Alex Finlay

The Night Shift is the latest crime novel by Alex Finlay

Turning back time, Alex’s latest novel starts in 1999. Or to be more precise, New Year’s Eve 1999.

The year everyone thought would bring about a digital apocalypse. Only the brave flew on NYE that year because the thought of plunging to earth as the clocks struck midnight was just too much for most people. We were anticipating chaos – computers were going to shut down, elevators would plunge to the ground and world markets would collapse. This disaster was going to eclipse anything else ever experienced.

In other words, everyone’s attention was elsewhere.

No-one was thinking of crimes being committed that night – not of the normal kind anyway.

But that night, a whole team of teenagers from the local blockbuster video store in Linden, New Jersey were working the night shift, when they were brutally murdered just before closing, or at least, the killer walked away believing that they were all dead.

However, that wasn’t the case. There was one sole survivor, Ella, who quickly shuts down, willing herself not to remember what had happened to the others.

There was only ever one potential suspect as well. A young lad, Vince Whitaker, was arrested before day broke and shortly afterwards released again due to lack of evidence. In the subsequent hours he disappears, and for many locals they saw this as an admission of guilt, especially when the murder weapon was later found in his locker at school.

But did he really kill anyone? And, where is he now?

Fast forward 15 years and Ella is now a trained therapist hoping to help others in need, but has she really resolved her own inner demons?

Then late one night it happens again. The killer is back and this time they strike an ice cream shop. What makes everyone think the same killer has returned to town? Not only are the helpless teens killed in the same way, one is left alive, just like Ella was 15 years ago.

Ella’s addled brain struggles to cope. Already living in a fog of drugs, alcohol and self abusive tendencies, the local high school principal calls and asks for her help with the latest survivor, Jesse, who until she arrives at the hospital, refuses to talk.

But how can Ella help Jesse when she is still unable to revisit that night for herself? With no ability to hold down a decent relationship, not even with her mother, how can she possibly get through to a teenager who has just been through the most horrific experience?

Could Vince Whitaker really be back? And if so, why has it taken him so long?

To try and answer this exact question the local police force enlist the help of FBI Agent Keller, a heavily pregnant woman who, rather than taking it easy, is out looking for the culprit of these massacres alongside young Atticus, a officer that is as determined as Keller to find out the truth regardless of the price.

At the same time, Chris Whitaker, Vince’s younger brother, is working as a public defender whilst also trying to find mysterious vlogger, Nirvana, in the hope that he will once again come face to face with his sibling.

If Vince is guilty of the first crime however, why return? Why come back after all these years? Is it guilt driving him? Or was something overlooked from all those years before that will finally lead to justice for all concerned?

My Thoughts on The Night Shift

I loved Alex’s first novel, Every Last Fear, so when I was asked if I wanted to review this one, I jumped at the chance.

I can only imagine the concern that an author has though – you loved the first book, will you enjoy the second?

Well, I have to say, I consumed this book at a rapid rate. In fact, I would say I inhaled it. The short, snappy chapters allow for you to fly through. There is no padding, not excess wording, it has been written to shock and draw you in from the opening pages, and that is exactly what happened.

The Night Shift has everything a mystery fan craves, starting with an opening that will hook you. You will find yourself falling into the book and refusing to claw your way out again until you reach the finale – the big reveal.

The chapters while short, are gripping, and often end on a cliffhanger. This only meant that I kept saying to myself, ‘just one more chapter’, which lead to me finishing the book in one sitting.

I literally lost a whole Sunday to this novel it became that addictive.

You could say that some of the storyline is predictable, but let’s face it, if you are a mystery fan, you can often see a twist coming or remember a similar story line. However, I would advise you not to get too cocky with this one. You may think you know where the story is going and how the characters are going to develop, but on this occasion, your sleuthing may led you up the garden path as my Nan used to say.

In short, The Night Shift is compulsive reading and while I fully understand crime novels aren’t for everyone, if you are going to pick one up this year, make it this one.

Have you read either The Night Shift or Every Last Fear? What were your thoughts on either novel? Do you have another mystery novel that you think we should all be reading? If so, please let us know in the comments below.

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The Night Shift is the latest crime novel by Alex Finlay. Read the full review @tbookjunkie

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