Leather, Stephen - 'Nightfall'
NIGHTFALL is the first from Stephen Leather to introduce the reader to a new character Jack Nightingale (a former police negotiator). Jack left the Metropolitan Police after a negotiation involving a 14-year-old girl who jumped to her death after being raped for a number of years by her father. Whilst visiting the father at his office, the father plunged to his death and since Jack wasn't going to tell anyone what happened, he had no option but to leave the force. The father's last words were "You're going to hell Jack Nightingale", a phrase that has haunted Jack for the intervening two years.
Now working as a private investigator, Jack is suddenly told that he has been left a mansion in Surrey by his biological father Ainsley Gosling (a man Jack has never heard of). When he finds the keys to a safe deposit box belonging to his father, Jack finds that his soul has been promised to a devil called Proserpine on his thirty-third birthday (which is only a few weeks away). Being unable to easily find out the truth (since his parents had both died in a car crash some 14 years before), Jack sets out to find the answers he needs with the help of former colleague Robbie Hoyle.
The house contains a hidden library with many books on the occult and he soon learns that whilst his father had been very wealthy, he had squandered all his money in recent years buying the books. His reason seems to be to find a way out of the bargain that he had made with Proserpine. When people around Jack start to die he realises that he must find out the reasons behind the deaths, find a way to stop the deaths and avoid losing his soul. One of the books is a diary by Sebastian Mitchell which details ways of conjuring up devils, so Jack wonders if he can talk his way out of giving up his soul but when he visits Mitchell he realises that he is also afraid of Proserpine coming after his soul.
Stephen Leather has produced an interesting character in Jack Nightingale and a very interesting supernatural thriller for him to solve. The book has really believable and interesting supporting characters: Jenny - his upmarket assistant who seems to be doing the job out of interest rather than the pay, Robbie Hoyle - Jack's former colleague and his adversary Sebastian Mitchell. Not being a reader of supernatural books, I was intrigued to see what the experience would be like. I have to say that due to Stephen Leather's writing, he has made the experience a real pleasure. I am looking forward to reading book two – MIDNIGHT (due out Jan 2011).
Read another review of NIGHTFALL.
Paul Blackburn, Scotland