Giving this one a new-author-graded-curve 4 stars. Because while there are several things in The Lost Night that don’t work, I think Andrea Baartz is a talented writer and I’d like to see more of what she can come up with.
Let’s focus on the positive first. As I said above, Baartz can write. It’s rare for a first-time novelist, especially one writing a low grade thriller, to have the hang of their style but she knows what she’s doing. It helps that she’s an accomplished journalist; her work having appeared in multiple outlets. But there’s a difference between that kind of writing and writing a fictional novel. She is able to avoid the traps of too many adjectives and adverbs in favor of clear, well-considered prose. For the most part, her characters felt fully realized. Her descriptions of drug and alcohol induced blackouts certainly gave me a good sense of atmosphere. And she knows New York without having to flaunt this knowledge.
This is a thriller though and there are pratfalls with trying to write this kind of thing. The dead girl at the center: Edie, becomes whatever she needs to be when the plot demands. Kind, rude, manipulative, helpful, sweet, bitter, etc. It made it difficult to pin her down exactly. Some of the pacing/cliffhanger types don’t really work or feel cheap. And while I liked parts of the final 4th of the book, I’m not sure how I feel about the revelations. I think there could have perhaps been a clearer trail of breadcrumbs.
But overall, this is a good rookie work and I’m glad I checked it out.