Title: That Night
Author: Gillian McAllister
Publisher: Penguin Michael Joseph UK
What would you do to protect your family?
During a family holiday in Italy, you get an urgent call from your sister.
There’s been an accident: she hit a man with her car and he’s dead.
She’s overcome with terror – fearing years in a foreign jail away from her child.
She asks for your help. It wasn’t her fault, not really. She’d cover for you, so will you do the same for her?
But when the police come calling, the lies start. And you each begin to doubt your trust in one another.
What really happened that night?
Who is lying to who?
Who will be the first to crack?
I always eagerly look forward to a new release by Gillian McAllister, and That Night did not disappoint!
It’s a story of loyalties, secrets and guilt, all revolving around the Plant siblings: Joe, Cathy and Frannie. One night, on holiday in Verona at their holiday home, Frannie calls Cathy and Joe in a state. She’s accidentally hit a man with a car – not just any man, but someone she had an altercation with earlier that day – and he’s dead. But of course, things aren’t quite that simple and the siblings all end up getting dragged deeper and deeper into what fast becomes a living nightmare, as they try to help their sister avoid a potential prison sentence.
One of the (many) things I loved about this book is the way the author paints such a convincing, realistic portrait of the three sibling’s desperation. Their decision to help Frannie cover up what had happened and their subsequent decisions all felt like something you can imagine people deciding – or at least, it’s not outside the realms of possibility. Although you may not agree with their decisions, you can see why they chose to do what they did.
Cathy, Joe and Frannie all have their faults; none of them are perfect. I liked this about them; Joe in particular has a dangerous streak, Frannie selfishly puts all her siblings in a very difficult situation and Cath fails to put a stop to any of it. It makes you wonder: what would I do in their situation?
There’s plenty of mystery in this novel, as we wonder what really happened that night, who is being truthful and who is keeping their own secrets from their siblings. I liked that the novel is split into two parts – one focusing on ‘then’, as the accident happens and the weeks and months afterwards, and another narrative focusing on the ‘present day’, during which time the reader is very much in the dark about what exactly has happened since that fateful night, and is going on now. As the novel continues, we start to unpick this.
That Night kept me completely hooked. I feel that it strikes the perfect balance between mystery/ drama and realism, never straying too far into craziness but simultaneously never losing my attention even for a moment. Every conversation, every tense development, plays out beautifully and meant that I really struggled to put this novel down. One of my favourite reads of 2021 so far!
Many thanks to the publisher, Penguin Michael Joseph, for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest review.
[…] Night – Gillian McAllister [read my review here] […]