About this book: (from the publisher) As a teenager, Toni Murphy had a life full of typical adolescent complications: a boyfriend she adored, a younger sister she couldn’t relate to, a strained relationship with her parents, and classmates who seemed hell-bent on making her life miserable. Things weren’t easy, but Toni could never have predicted how horrific they would become until her younger sister was brutally murdered one summer night.
Toni and her boyfriend, Ryan, were convicted of the murder and sent to prison.
Now thirty-four, Toni, is out on parole and back in her hometown, struggling to adjust to a new life on the outside. Prison changed her, hardened her, and she’s doing everything in her power to avoid violating her parole and going back. This means having absolutely no contact with Ryan, avoiding fellow parolees looking to pick fights, and steering clear of trouble in all its forms. But nothing is making that easy—not Ryan, who is convinced he can figure out the truth; not her mother, who doubts Toni’s innocence; and certainly not the group of women who made Toni’s life hell in high school and may have darker secrets than anyone realizes. No matter how hard she tries, ignoring her old life to start a new one is impossible. Before Toni can truly move on, she must risk everything to find out what really happened that night.
About the author: (from the author’s website) Chevy Stevens grew up on a ranch on Vancouver Island and still calls the island home. For most of her adult life she worked in sales, first as a rep for a giftware company and then as a Realtor. While holding an open house one afternoon, she had a terrifying idea that became the inspiration for Still Missing. Chevy eventually sold her house and left real estate so she could finish the book. Still Missing went on to become a New York Times bestseller and win the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel. Chevy’s books have been optioned for movies and are published in more than thirty countries.
Chevy enjoys writing thrillers that allow her to blend her interest in family dynamics with her love of the west coast lifestyle. When she’s not working on her next book, she’s camping and canoeing with her husband and daughter in the local mountains.
Would I read this book, judged on its cover alone? In that it’s dark and haunting? Sure.
If this book were a movie, I would rate it: R. Profanity (a lot) and mature themes.
Reminds me of… Lisa Unger
You’ll want to buy this book if … you enjoy dark suspense novels with edgy female protagonists.
Why did I read this book? As the She Reads Book Club pick of the month.
Would I read another by this author? I’ve enjoyed her before and am sure I will do so again.
My take: I’ve read Chevy Stevens before, and in fact found her debut thriller, Still Missing, utterly gripping, if raw and disturbing too. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough, and I was fascinated by her unconventional storytelling style.
This more conventional novel features Stevens’ same tight prose, with a similar amount of rising tension, though without the more disturbing psychological elements of her debut. Despite the fact that the main character is either a rebellious, Goth teen or a hardened, tattooed convict–depending on where you are in the story–Stevens manages to make her sympathetic and (kinda) likable. Enough for me to stick with her story, anyway.
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Stevens also does a masterful job of portraying a family in all sorts of believable trouble–from a dad who can’t manage to man up before his stubborn, opinionated wife; a mom who plays favorites and dwells in denial to the utter destruction of her family; to a pair of sisters who make one bad choice after enough until there are none left to be made. Add to this the graphic portrayal of a teenage bully off the hook and the rampant results of her unchecked hatred, and you have a book that is truly frightening. Though I wouldn’t call this an easy read, nor a particularly enjoyable one, it is a fascinating tour of the darker side of human nature.
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
End notes: If you’re thinking this is a pretty heavy choice for a She Reads selection, you’re right, though here’s the disclaimer: this month’s pick was suggested by their network of review bloggers. See what others are saying here, where you can also enter a drawing to win a copy of That Night.