That Night by Gillian McAllister

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on the latest novel by Gillian McAllister, That Night. My thanks to publisher Penguin for the advance copy for review. Here’s what the book is all about:

Source: Netgalley
Release Date: 08 July 2021
Publisher: Penguin

About the Book

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?

My Thoughts

This is only the second book that I’ve read by Gillian McAllister, but I have to say that I’m enjoying what I’m reading very much. That Night is a tense, twisted look at the very close relationship between three siblings, bound together by two tragedies, one n their past and one very, very much in their present.

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t much like the protagonists in this story. There is a real intensity to the relationship between older brother Joe and his sisters, Cathy and Frannie, one which is almost claustrophobic and hard to breach, even as a reader. We are drawn into their twisted world with a very tense and shocking opening, getting to know the essence of the story before we get to know them and almost being forced into making a snap decision about their character, much as Cathy and Joe are forced into making a snap decision about what occurs. What this leads to is a strange but fascinating mistrust between the characters and me as a reader. They make a choice which seems unpalatable, one which no matter how close I was with my siblings (and I’m not) I could never imagine making, and what follows is an exploration of why they made this choice – what drove this seemingly out of character behaviour – and the ongoing repercussions of that fateful night.

And yet, in spite of the fact I didn’t much like the characters, I was completely drawn into the story of a family vacation turned sour.. Whether it was morbid curiosity to see how far their lies and deception could carry them, or to see if, ultimately, justice was done, I’m not sure, but I was fascinated. The styling of the book was very clever, told from differing points of view, largely Cathy and Joe, in third person, and a first person narration which really puts a different perspective on what comes to pass. The author plants many seeds of doubt, lots of misdirection, and maintains the tension from start to finish. Although we do know the what, we don’t have the full picture of the why and how, and it takes time for that to slowly, but surely, emerge from the fog. There is a strange sense of entitlement amongst the siblings, and seeing this gradually erode, seeing their emotions take over, adds a melancholy to the tale too.

That Night is a really intriguing exploration of how far a family will go to protect each other and what they will sacrifice for those they love. It is also a great character study as to how a bad decision can slowly corrupt and break and already fragile personality, pushing people to the very edge of sanity, and seeing the impact of guilt upon their behaviour. If you are looking for a strong, character led, psychological thriller then this could be the read for you.

About the Author

Gillian McAllister is the Sunday Times Top 10 bestselling author of Everything But The Truth, Anything You Do Say, No Further Questions and The Evidence Against You.

How To Disappear is her latest release, a witness protection thriller.

All of her novels are standalone and can be read in any order. She is published in ten countries around the world. The Good Sister is her US debut, released by Penguin USA, and is the American title for No Further Questions. The Choice is her second American release which is the US title for Anything You Do Say.

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