Here is my review of NIGHTFALL as it will appear on Amazon. (Joe Haschka, Glendale, CA)Has Leather bartered his soul? In NIGHTFALL, author Stephen Leather takes (presumably temporary) leave of his otherwise ongoing hero, Dan “Spider” Shepherd, to give his followers a novel of the occult. Perhaps Leather is contemplating a new direction for the Shepherd series and is stalling for time vis-à-vis his publisher? Be that as it may, NIGHTFALL is an unexpected treat for those fans seeking a hiatus from the Spider adventures that are perhaps verging uncomfortably close on the too-predictable.Here, Jack Nightingale is a struggling London private-eye and a former member of the Metropolitan Police’s elite CO19 armed response unit, from which he was forced out under a cloud after a suicide-prevention incident went horribly wrong. During his daily routine of catching-out cheating spouses, Jack now learns that he’s been willed a palatial country home by a previously unknown man, Ainsley Gosling, claiming to be Nightingale’s biological father. Why, the inheritance tax alone will ruin Jack’s finances. And then there’s the DVD, made shortly before Gosling blew his brains out with a shotgun, on which he apologizes for selling his son’s soul to a devil at birth, the delivery due on Nightingale’s thirty-third birthday two weeks hence. As Jack resists belief and the last few days before the closing date trickle away, the bodies begin to pile up as relatives, a close friend, and assorted others meet horrible –– sometimes gruesome – ends. And the teenage girl dressed in Goth black and too much mascara and accompanied by an attentive Border collie. What’s she all about?As a teenager, I enjoyed many novels of the occult. Books by Dennis Wheatley come to mind as representative favorites of my youth, though such pretty much never transit my bookshelf now. However, I recall that the sale of one’s soul to the devil is a standard concept of the genre, so nothing in the first three-quarters of NIGHTFALL promised to elevate this thriller above three, perhaps four, stars. That is, until the last couple of chapters, when Nightingale’s special talents as a hostage negotiator delivered the book into five-star range with a riveting conclusion.At one point, Jack ponders whether or not a soul exists. Since the reader of any author of fiction may wonder how much the scribbler imbues the story’s main character with his/her own traits, I’m left to speculate if Leather is pondering the existence and state of his own writer’s soul as he ages. Does he perhaps think that selling it to his publisher in exchange for undreamed of wealth and power in the literary world too great a price? After all, the devil is in the contractual details. I must ask when I see him.In any case, Stephen, thank you for another terrific yarn which added considerable entertainment to four days of my life. And you can be assured I’ll keep a chary eye on Border collies from now on.
Joe, that's brilliant, thank so much! The plan in future is for me to write two books a year, with Jack Nightingale stories appearing every January and the Dan Shepherd books out in July. I just hope I can keep up the pace!
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