Nightfall by Stephen Leather – Review – Douglas R. Cobb

By on March 1, 2013

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Former police negotiator Jack Nightingale’s own father sold his soul to a devil in return for vast wealth. However, he doesn’t bother to let his son know about this small fact until it is close to the time of reckoning. When he finally does, he does so posthumously, as a true coward would. Jack’s unbelieving, at first. How can a man of logic, who is grounded in the reality of dealing with the potential of death and suicide on a daily basis, believe in the supernatural?

In Nightfall, the page-turning and suspenseful start of an intense and imminently readable trilogy by U.K. author, Stephen Leather, we find out, along with his protagonist Jack Nightingale, that sometimes the solid reality of the world around us isn’t so solid. Sometimes, like a brick that crashes down upon our heads from an unseen assailant’s hand, we discover that devils and demons are just as relentless and real.

At the beginning of Leather’s novel, we learn about Nightingale’s last case as a police negotiator. He’s called in to try to talk with a person and prevent her from becoming yet another suicide statistic. The difference is the person’s age. The girl, just nine years old, should be at a time in her young life where she is more interested in skipping rope and playing with her dolls than with the intense feelings of sadness and inner pain that ultimately cause her to want to end her life.

Nightingale’s attempts to talk her out of going through with the suicide prove to be futile. He talks to her from an adjoining terrace, thirteen floors up from the cold, hard pavement. She’s been the victim of sexual abuse from her own father, and she’s finally had more than she can take, and wants to end the abuse by taking her own life.

Extremely shaken by the girl’s death, Nightingale is driven with the desire to kill the girl’s father. He never admits to anyone what happened the day that the girl’s father dies; was her father thrown from his office window by Jack, to fall and die like his daughter had? His last words to Jack as he crashes through the glass window is: “You’re going to hell, Jack Nightingale!”

The words and the events that led up to the girl’s suicide and her father’s death haunt Jack’s nightmares. He quits the force, and becomes a private detective, but he can’t escape from his past.

Out of the blue, he gets the information from a banker that he is the heir to his father’s immense mansion. This is news to him, as Jack’s father–or, the person he thought was his father–was already dead. He conducts an investigation into who this person was, who claims to have been his true biological father, and who killed himself by blowing his brains out with a shotgun, in the master bedroom of the mansion. And, in the middle of a pentagram he’d drawn. Who, or what, was Jack’s father waiting for the night he killed himself?

Given a DVD that the man who claims to have been Jack’s father leaves him, Nightingale finds out that he was given up shortly after birth. He also had, and maybe still has a sister, though he has grown up believing he’s an only child. What’s more, the only reason that his father had for helping to bring Jack and his sister into the world was to serve as a means to and end: two souls of innocence to sell to the devil, or to a devil, at any rate.

Jack has only three weeks left before the devil will supposedly come to claim his soul on his thirty-third birthday. Jack had never believed in things like souls before as he has a difficult time coming to terms with the fact that the whole affair is not some twisted sort of scam. But, he has little money to scam, and he’s become the heir to an estate worth millions, even with the heavy debt he’d be responsible for. The whole business was way too elaborate to be a scam, and if it was one, whoever had dreamt it up would have spent a fortune to reap a very meager return for his money.

Nightfall’s plot is moved along at a breakneck pace by Stephen Leather, with short, powerful chapters and twists and turns that will make you want to keep on reading it until late into the night. If you love reading engrossing, action-filled psychological thrillers, you’ll find Nigthfall to be a book you’ll want to add to your reading lists. I highly recommend it, and I’m looking forward to reading the next two books in the series, which will be called Midnight and nightmare. Check Nightfall out today, and see for yourselves why Stephen Leather is one of the U.K.’s top authors of supernatural thrillers!

About Douglas Cobb

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