“The Night Shift”

Truth, manipulation of facts, outright lies

“The Night Shift” opens on New Year’s Eve 1999 at Blockbuster Video in Linden, NJ. The night shift workers consist of four sweet, albeit mischievous, teenage girls, Mandy, Ella, Katie, and Candy.

At closing time, a terrible tragedy strikes. The narrative advances fifteen years; the present tense structure makes everything more urgent, more compelling.  Ella Monroe, therapist with a little side hustle in NYC hotels, receives a frantic call; a young girl needs help. It is the same town, different people, another tragedy, and Jesse Duvall is the sole survivor.  Monroe is uniquely qualified to help; she knows what it is like to be the only one who made it out alive.

The story unfolds in alternating points of view and goes back and forth in time to describe, to clarify, and to expose. People are introduced with detailed backgrounds so readers immediately get to know them. Characters are diverse in age and experience; they are focused and personable in their own way. These are separate people with separate stories, but ones that are inseparably intertwined. Each travels a separate road that leads to a common intersection and ends in a colossal collision.

The town needs all the help it can get to solve this horrible crime. Atticus Singh and Joe Arpeggio are part of the local police department. Sarah Keller, pregnant with twins, is a data person called in from the FBI. She is someone who can find something missing, overlooked, or deliberately hidden. Chris Ford is the public-defender representing people who hate him. The town is filled with people who have secrets, significant secrets, secrets that that must be reconciled, resolved, and released.

The case is like a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle with pieces spread all over the table. One or two look like they should go together, but on closer examination; they do not. Then, slowly, a little color here, a shape there, and the pieces start to match up; the startling picture falls into place.

The pace is fast, unfolding over just a few days with days numbered and identified. The line between good and evil is blurred; truth is hidden by manipulation of facts and outright lies. I received a review copy of “The Night Shift” from Alex Finlay, St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books, and Macmillan Publishing.

“The sheep spends its life worried about the wolf, only to be eaten by the farmer.”