On New Year’s Eve 1999, four teenagers and their boss are attacked in a New Jersey Blockbuster Video. Fifteen years later, four teenagers are attacked at an ice cream store in the same town, and again only one makes it out alive.
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.
The Night Shift is Alex Finlay’s second novel, billed as a thriller, that explores two murderous rampages in the same town 15 years apart. I first want to clarify that I found this book to be much more of a crime novel than thriller. While there are mysteries at the center of the plot, The Night Shift lacked the pacing of a thriller and featured two narrators – a FBI agent and a public defender – that were on the procedural side of things.
I enjoy Alex Finlay’s writing. I find it easy to read, even with multiple narrators and many characters. So far, his books have been super quick reads for me. As with Finlay’s debut novel, Every Last Fear, The Night Shift includes themes of family. I think this sets his books apart from many thrillers that are solely focused on secrets, murders, and/or crime.
The way in which The Night Shift was marketed led me to believe that I would be immersed in ’90s nostalgia. But I ended up disappointed. Unless you really miss Blockbuster and those “Be Kind, Rewind” signs, you will not feel any nostalgia. The 1999 timeline is minimally featured.
My biggest issue with The Night Shift is the portrayal of female characters. I try not to be too hard on male authors writing female characters, but I do believe that authors should stick to what they know or do very thorough research. If you are a male author that really wants to write a female character, you should at least have a female editor. The inauthenticity of female characters in The Night Shift was difficult to overlook. Ask any woman who has been pregnant, let alone with twins, if they could barge into a standoff at 8 1/2 months pregnant and you will get an adamant “no.” A woman two weeks from her due date with twins is probably going to be on bed rest if she is lucky enough to carry to full term. I understand that the FBI agent character was supposed to be admirable and heroic… but then why did she need to be super preggo? Beyond this, there were a few other instances that bordered on cringy.
Overall, I enjoyed The Night Shift but was not fully captivated by the plot. I feel like it fell short of my expectations after reading Every Last Fear. I do recommend it, but I would suggest going into the book knowing it is more of a crime novel and prior to reading Every Last Fear.
Note: I received an e-galley of this book from the publisher, Minotaur Books. Regardless, I always provide a fair and honest review.