Genre: Psychological suspense, Mystery, Contemporary Fiction
Setting: Modern day Tranquil Cove, a fictional town on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington
***I received an eARC copy of After Nightfall from the publisher, Lake Union Publishing, via NetGalley***
*** this post contains affiliate links ***
Review: Compulsively readable, but doesn’t truly have any shocking surprises. After Nightfall by A.J. Banner is a tough book for me to review. I couldn’t put the book down, as I had to know what happened, but nothing really stood out as different about this read.
After Nightfall tells the story of Marissa Parlette, who has recently reconnected with her best friend from childhood, Lauren. Lauren happens to live next door to Marissa’s fiancé, and one night Lauren leaves a party early and is found dead the next morning. Marissa feels compelled to investigate, as she found Lauren, and because of their dramatic history (which is neither shocking nor uncommon).
There are plenty of suspects here, from Lauren’s husband, to Lauren’s daughter, to Marissa’s fiancé, Nathan, who keeps sneaking out at night, to Nathan’s jealous ex-wife, to Nathan’s daughter, and the neighbor who always seems to appear anytime anyone goes outside. Bring in Nathan’s jerky brother Keith and his strained wife, and you’ve got a case of anyone could’ve done it! You suspect everyone (even Marissa, the narrator) at multiple points, and while A.J. Banner did a great job of keeping the suspicion up (someone would come off my list as a suspect just to go right back on it), the characters were overall a bit flat.
The male characters really let me down here. They were all a bit drippy and full of clichés. Marissa also was somewhat frustrating. I could never tell if she was a reliable narrator or not (that’s part of the fun of first-person psychological suspense), and she makes some really poor decisions here that were really irritating. The villain does get their “tell-all” towards the end, and while some may find this type of thing annoying, I enjoy it as I get some closure as to motive. And while we get closure for the villain (or do we?), After Nightfall had an unsatisfactory ending for me. I could have done without the last couple of pages. No spoilers here, but if you’ve read the book, feel free to comment about that ending.
Books like this are tough for me to recommend. Did I enjoy the book? Yes, I read it quickly and wanted to know the ending and couldn’t quite figure it out. But at the same time, nothing truly felt new or different, so I don’t think I’ll be remembering this for much longer. I read and reviewed another one of A.J. Banner’s books awhile back, The Twilight Wife, and I enjoyed that title much more. I’d definitely read more from A.J. Banner though, as she does write books that are entertaining reads!
Bottom Line: Many twists and turns that are predictable to a point, but still utterly readable.