Monday, March 2, 2015
Night is the Hunter by Steven Gore (thoughts)
"They call it pulling the trigger.
Not by a killer in the night, but by a judge on the bench.
Twenty years ago, Judge Ray McMullin proved to the people of San Francisco that he could pull that trigger by sentencing Israel Dominguez to death for a gangland murder. But it meant suppressing his own doubts about whether the punishment really did fit the crime.
Now, as the execution date nears, the conscience-wracked judge confesses his unease to former homicide detective Harlan Donnally on a riverbank in far Northern California. And after immersing himself in the Norteno and Sureno gang wars, which left trails of bullets and blood crisscrossing the state, and in the betrayals of both cops and crooks alike, Donnally is forced to question not only whether the penalty was undeserved but the conviction itself."
Night is the Hunter is one of those slow building mysteries where the suspense level slowly creeps up on you until it explodes at the very end. I really enjoyed this one for a variety of reasons but the main one was the way the author used age and a person's memories to really add to the mystery in this book. It was done in a way that left the main character Harlan Donnally questioning what really happened and the truth behind what he was finding out. I was questioning the truth in everything as well, and I feel like this sense of unreality really added to the atmosphere of the story. In fact, there were multiple instances throughout the book where age and memory played key points. Judge McMullin comes to Donnally struggling with the possibility that he made the wrong decisions and a young man is about to be executed because of it. He is getting older and his memories from that time are questionable at best. As Donnally begins to dig into the case he begins to realize that he is finding more questions than answers. All of this combined to create such a great atmosphere where I as the reader never really knew what was going on. I loved how the author used all of these different questions to really add to the mystery!
The mystery was great and I fully admit that I didn't figure it out on my own even though I was trying. The ending was actually really great because of this and because the author managed to throw in one final surprise. But what really left me intrigued was at the end of this book in a sort of afterwards the author goes on to talk about the law and how each of his books are based on problems found within the justice system. Say what?!? And then he goes on explain the law that he was using in this book and explain how it relates in understandable terms. The best part though is his explanation of how it relates to this book using the ending as an example. Be still my bookish heart! I absolutely love learning something new but then going back through and seeing how it was used in the story. Excellent choice! This may be the best ending to a mystery ever! I've always liked when mysteries or books are based on actual events and this is kind of like that but different. Definitely something that I appreciated though!
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and will definitely be reading more from this series! I've been lucky so far this year to find some great new to me authors and Gore is definitely on that list. The author takes his time building both the mystery and suspense but it is worth the wait! And learning something new just makes it even better. Another book that I can easily recommend!!!
Bottom Line: A solid mystery with a great sense of unreality!
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher as part of a TLC book tour. Thoughts are my own!