I received this book for free from the TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.After Nightfall by A.J. Banner
Published by Lake Union Publishing on August 7, 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Mystery, Psychological Suspense
Source: TLC Book Tours
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Imagine your closest friend utterly betraying you. Years later, when she seeks forgiveness, you invite her to your engagement party as a gesture of reconciliation. But seething hostilities rise to the surface, ruining everyone’s evening. After an awful night, your friend’s battered, lifeless body is found at the bottom of a rocky cliff.
Newly engaged Marissa Parlette is living this nightmare. She should be celebrating her upcoming wedding, but she can’t shake the image of her friend lying dead on the beach. Did she fall? Was she pushed? Or did she take a purposeful step into darkness? Desperate for answers, Marissa digs deep into the events of the party. But what she remembers happening after nightfall now carries sinister implications: the ugly sniping, the clandestine meetings, the drunken flirtations. The more she investigates, the more she questions everything she thought she knew about her friends, the man she once trusted, and even herself.
Bestselling author A. J. Banner keeps readers on a razor-sharp edge in this intricately plotted novel of psychological suspense…in which nothing is as it seems.
“Gripping and arresting! After Nightfall is a stellar psychological thriller. Banner had me second-guessing every character throughout the entire novel. I literally couldn’t figure out who’d done it until the reveal. And it was shocking. Love that!” –Kerry Lonsdale, Wall Street Journal bestselling author
“Moody and beautifully atmospheric, After Nightfall is a psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the final page, the final sentence even, a heart-stopping revelation. I highly recommend it!” –Barbara Taylor Sissel, bestselling author of Faultlines and The Truth We Bury
Marissa Parlette is an elementary school speech therapist, and she’s newly engaged to the man of her dreams–who happens to be the father of one of her patients that she’s successfully helped at school. To announce their engagement, Marissa and EMT Nathan gather their close friends and family for a dinner party, but the night turns sour when Marissa’s best friend from childhood through college turns up dead under mysterious circumstances. Those are the facts, and the rest of After Nightfall is full of unreliable characters who lie and scheme–whether they’re doing it on purpose or not–to save their hides for their own nefarious reasons.
Marissa and Lauren had a major falling out in college and have only recently begun to reconnect and repair their broken friendship after many years, mostly due to Lauren, her husband Jensen, and their daughter move in next door to Marissa’s fiancé. But Lauren drunkenly flirts with Nathan at the dinner party, and after the engagement announcement Nathan’s nine-year-old daughter does not look pleased, along with his sister-in-law Hedra. Everything seems to go to hell after that, and the party is over when Lauren gets a call to pick up her teenaged daughter at a friend’s house. Lauren tells Marissa that she needs to speak with her, but they never get the chance because Lauren is found dead on the beach the next morning–by Marissa.
Everyone in the book is keeping secrets, even the children. I really enjoyed trying to figure out who was telling the truth and what everyone was hiding. A.J. Banner did an excellent job of weaving together a great mystery with everyone’s secrets slowly getting revealed. Marissa has been burned in the past, so she doesn’t trust very easily, and when Nathan starts acting weirdly she doesn’t act very well as she tries to find out what really happened to Lauren. How can Marissa trust those close to her if she doesn’t know if they’re telling the truth? She hasn’t had the greatest luck in that department in her life, and with Nathan going out on calls during the nighttime, she’s never sure if he’s really working or not. She desperately wants to forgive Lauren for the past, but she needs to know the truth before she can move past it. And to do that, Marissa will stop at nothing to find out how Lauren fell down that cliff and died on the beach that night–even if it puts her in the crosshairs of a killer that could be familiar to her.
Marissa was very relatable and understandable, and she held a love for Nathan and his daughter even when she had reservations about them and everyone else. Compassionate, smart, and friendly, Marissa doesn’t make serious friends easily since Lauren betrayed her in college. She’s been on her own since her father died a few years earlier and her mother abandoned them when she was a girl, so she’s been longing for a stable family for so long. She doesn’t want to give up on them and she’s willing to fight–especially for her future daughter-in-law.
I give After Nightfall a 4.5 out of 5. Full of tension, lies, and a picturesque yet dark and brooding seaside setting, I really enjoyed the pacing and tight plotting of this psychological suspense. This was a page turner for me, and I was reluctant to put it down since I really needed to see what happened next. After Nightfall wasn’t very predictable since most everyone was a suspect, and I really loved the ending. Just when you think everything is over and wrapped up–surprise, there’s more! And it’s fabulous!
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About A.J. Banner
Born in India and raised in North America, A. J. Banner received degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. Her previous novels of psychological suspense include The Good Neighbor and The Twilight Wife, a USA Today bestseller. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and six rescued cats.
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A.J. Banner’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for AFTER NIGHTFALL:
Monday, August 6th: @read.write.coffee
Wednesday, August 8th: @ladyofthelibrary
Thursday, August 9th: @prose_and_palate
Friday, August 10th: @thats_what_she_read
Saturday, August 11th: @girlandherbooks
Sunday, August 12th: @girlsinbooks
DATE TBD: (reschedule from 8/7): @chaptershoe
Monday, August 6th: Write Read Life
Monday, August 6th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Tuesday, August 7th: 5 Minutes for Books
Wednesday, August 8th: Bookmark Lit
Thursday, August 9th: Helen’s Book Blog
Thursday, August 9th: Books & Bindings
Friday, August 10th: From the TBR Pile
Tuesday, August 14th: Midwest Ladies Who Lit
Wednesday, August 15th: Thoughts from a Highly Caffeinated Mind
Thursday, August 16th: @bookenetics
Thursday, August 16th: A Bookish Way of Life
Friday, August 17th: Bewitched Bookworms
Monday, August 20th: What is That Book About – author guest post
Tuesday, August 21st: Moonlight Rendezvous
Wednesday, August 22nd: Thoughts on This ‘n That
Thursday, August 23rd: Girl Who Reads
Friday, August 24th: Palmer’s Page Turners
Monday, August 27th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Tuesday, August 28th: Kahakai Kitchen
Wednesday, August 29th: Sweet Southern Home