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Nightfall Paperback – Mar 20 2012
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About the Author
Stephen Leather is one of the UK's most successful thriller writers. Before becoming a novelist he was a journalist for more than ten years on newspapers such as The Times, the Daily Mail and the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. Before that, he was employed as a biochemist for ICI, shoveled limestone in a quarry, worked as a baker, a petrol pump attendant, a barman, and worked for the Inland Revenue. He began writing full time in 1992 and his bestsellers have been translated into more than ten languages. He has also written for television on such shows as “London's Burning,” “The Knock,” and the BBC's “Murder in Mind” series and two of his books, The Stretch and The Bombmaker, were filmed for TV. His ebooks have spent more than six months on the UK Kindle Top 100 and for several months he had four titles in the UK Kindle Top 10. You can find out more from his website, www.stephenleather.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The writing was fine, and the pacing good. There were fewer plot twists than expected and in truth this was more like a police or detective procedural than a heavy-duty occult fantasy. Still, I enjoyed it. One could read it and not feel trapped into following up with the rest of the series (when they become available in the US), as there is pretty good closure at the end. On the other hand, there were clearly plot threads left untied at the end and I was not surprised to find that there were more books in the series.
Jack was just a bit too clichéd to draw me completely in. Chain smoker (Marlboros of course), heavy drinker and with a slightly ambiguous past as a cop. His girl Friday (or Jenny in this case) was something of an enigma. Smart, young wealthy, but no other personality. No sexual tension between Jack and her, in fact except for some of the descriptions of the suicides/murders, the entire novel was pretty much PG rated. No sex, no gore, no real horror. Actually, neither Jack nor Jenny seemed to have any sort of libido at all.
p.s. I originally gave this 3 stars. And then I read the rest of the series. Wow! Everything I said above was true, but Jack sort of grows on you. A lot. So does Jenny and all the characters, and the series. All The rest of the series are 4 and 5 star novels. I wish I could start all over again.
It's not my usual fare - but I quite enjoyed it. It was an intriguing read and well worth the time. Not quite an unshakable grip on the reader but still a strong pull to keep going and get to the end.
If you have an interest in 'dark' thrillers/chillers and don't mind a little dabble in the occult in your books (neither of which describe me BTW) I think you'll find it interesting. If you're just looking for an entertaining read then it's also not a bad option.
Couple of issues - skimmed over the whole 'how do you sell something you don't own' isue, but marks for mentioning it. Also, it was pretty clear how the book was going to solve the key issue - but it was still interesting finding out the mechanics.
After this book I might just give Leather another try.
Turns out there is a reason the author has received all those 4-5 star reviews, he really knows how to write a solid book, and does a particularly good job of balancing tension and plot advancement, while crafting interesting characters and realistic dialog. All too often, books of this genre have dialog that is jarringly bad in spots (aka nobody talks like that in real life) or plot devices of the worst sort of Dues Ex Machina kind. Leather does not fall into either trap. Its clear the Nightfall series benefits from the author's experiences writing his previous books, as in the wrong hands this could have been a terrible book. Instead, it ended up a well written, terrifically executed take on the genre.
For fans of the author- if you had not ordered already, feel free to go ahead. You won't be disappointed. For others new to Stephen Leather, I think this would be a great jump in point on a talented author. While I wait for the next two books in the series, I will probably start working my way through his earlier works as well. This book caused me more than a few late nights, while I read "one more page". Can't praise it more than that.
The Bad: Packed with cliche, and slow, slow, S-L-O-W. By the middle of the novel, I was wondering whether Leather was going to save Jack's 33rd birthday for the third volume in this planned trilogy. (Answer: No, fortunately.)
The Good: I'm not familiar with Leather's other work, but he's obviously a skilled and occasionally-thoughtful writer. Despite the torpid pace of "Nightfall," he's able to maintain enough tension and mystery to keep his not-quite-bored-to-tears readers turning the pages. Jack's conversations with with clergy and others about death, heaven, and hell resonate, at least a little, and some of the atmospheric bits are well done. (That does NOT include the repeated scratching sounds Jack hears at his dad's house or the even more frequently repeated lamentations about how you can't smoke in bars anymore.) Most of the humor is hackneyed film noir banter, but it's still entertaining. And, finally, the book's conclusion is not half-bad: it resolves enough to satisfy readers but leaves enough up in the air to justify a second volume.
Additional comment: We know from the get-go that Jack's dad sold his soul to a devil (not THE devil, FWIW), and that the devil is going to be coming to collect it. Leather makes (almost) no effort to suggest that this is NOT what's going to happen. That being the case, to put off the inevitable until late in the book is (figurative) torture. Maybe Leather WANTED to frustrate readers. I don't know, but that's definitely what he does in "Nightfall".
Bottom line: This is an OK book. I read so little horror that I can't say how it compares to similar novels in the same genre. I can say, however, that it is both less exciting and less imaginative than kindred books in dark urban fantasy, like Jim Butcher's Dresden Files or Kat Richardson's Greywalker series. I wouldn't tell anybody to run out and buy this book, but if you're stuck in the airport and there's nothing else appealing on the shelves, you could do worse.