Monday, March 2, 2015

Night is the Hunter by Steven Gore (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"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."

My Thoughts:

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!


  1. This sounds good Sam and it's great that you couldn't guess the ending. Much better than the last book where you did. I really like when an author explains something and I get to learn something new. A lot of them don't but I think the good ones do.

  2. This really does sound like an excellent book, full of suspense and surprises! Terrific review, Sam!

  3. Greet review, Sam! This sounds like a great book, with the mystery, characters and all!

  4. Oh I love it when I try to figure out the mystery and the author does such a good job that I am still surprised at the end. Great review!

  5. This does sound like a winner, Samantha. I always read the author's notes at the end (if there are any), and it sounds like the author's notes on this one are particularly interesting. I will have to add this to my wish list.

  6. The author's use of age and memory add a deeper side to the story that really appeals to me. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  7. Darlene- I thought the ending afterwards part was absolutely great! I just loved how the author used it to explain different elements of this book while teaching me something. I really do wish more authors did things like this (when possible).

    Thanks Suko! I really enjoyed it and am eager to read more of this author's books!

    Melody- It really was and I think that you would enjoy it! (Just since we seem to have similar mystery reading taste)

    Iliana- I feel like I figure out a good portion of the endings to the mysteries I read so it is always a bonus when I don't. This one has lots of red herrings where you think the book is going a certain way and then nope it doesn't. Really good read!

    Wendy- They really were! I cannot express how much more I enjoyed this book because of them. And that really says it all :)

    Heather- Thanks for having me on the tour! The author did some really great things with this book and I cannot wait to read more by him!


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