I’ve been looking for a book with a landscape on the cover for such a long time. And since it’s October and I was in the mood for spooky reads, I thought I couldn’t go wrong with a thriller. How hard could it be to find? I’m honestly amazed that I didn’t give up on what appeared to be a fool’s errand. Alas, NetGalley came to my rescue.
The Night Thief is a procedural crime book, which will be out on November 18th, and I got a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here we go.
This book has an exciting starting point. In a cluster of small little English towns, a man is breaking into women’s houses in the middle of the night and scaring the hell out of them, but all he takes from their houses is a picture of a 10-year-old boy before leaving through the front door. And let me tell you, as a woman living alone, the thought of a creep breaking into my house and watching me sleep is terrifying.
So I thought I was going to enjoy this book. I was expecting to be kept in a simmering level of anxiety throughout the book – as it turns out, not so much. Also, it turns out that going into a book with incorrect expectations hinders my enjoyment of a book.
Let me make one thing clear: this book is not a thriller. I almost want to call it a cosy mystery, but it didn’t feel very cosy to me despite the small-town setting. Also, while a mystery was somewhat driving the plot forward, there was no sense of urgency, and it’s not at the heart of the story. I want to say this story is character-driven, but there are so many characters, and none of them is presented in much depth, nor does any of them undergo an actual character arc, so I’m a bit at a loss. It’s almost a slice of life narrative in the lives of the police department of Saltern-le-Fern.
If you go prepared for that, I guess this is a perfectly adequate book. I also found out after I finished the book that it’s the 8th in a series, so I think it would help if you’d read those before as it feels there are so many characters because they probably all already had their arcs in previous books. You’d probably care about most of the scenes if you cared about the characters, but I guess I’m not the target audience after all.
Here are some things that bugged me without giving too much away.
- There were too many characters, and it feels like all of them are cops (I can think of 8 off the top of my head), and I couldn’t tell them apart for most of the book.
- Because we are following so many characters, the narrative is meandering at best, making it hard to keep up any momentum or tension in the story.
- There is a secondary plotline that is clearly set up to be a red herring, and although the author did try to tie things together, it still felt disconnected to me at the end.
- I don’t quite know how to put this, but everyone was strangely polite in this book in a way that felt unrealistic. It felt a little like the tea-with-my-grandmother version of a crime novel: too sanitised, for lack of a better word.
- There is a lot of telling instead of showing at the end of the book. It ends with an epilogue-style last chapter where the characters are having dinner together and explaining what happened because we didn’t get enough information to fill in the gaps throughout the book.
But I guess that’s the point because this book is not about the mystery, the victims, or even the crime itself. It’s about the lives of these cops, but I think if that was the point, at least one of them deserved to be more 3-dimensional and have a better character arc.