Nighttime Is My Time by Mary Higgins Clark
Pros: Started with a reasonable premise
Cons: but suffers from too many flaws
I usually enjoy Mary Higgins Clark’s books, even if they’re not examples of great writing. Normally they are at very least entertaining thrillers. But Nighttime Is My Time failed to hold my interest. By the end, I barely cared “who done it”.
The setting was intriguing enough – a 20-year class reunion. A weekend gathering of old classmates. Some friends, some enemies, everyone bringing their own past demons. There a small group of people with a shared past experience. All were unhappy during their childhood. For various reasons. Some were “outsiders”, picked on by the other students. Others had issues at home. In any case, here it is, 20 years later. You’d think they’d all be over it by now – risen above their past issues. But one person is definitely NOT over it. One person is out for revenge – making his classmates pay for past transgressions.
We get plenty of chapters from the bad guy’s point of view. Thus we understand his motivations, know what he’s up to, and we even learn that he’s committed some atrocious acts of revenge in the past. Further, we know that he is one of the reunion attendees. We just don’t know – until the end – which one he is.
That’s the premise, and it wasn’t a bad one. We’ve all known kids who were unhappy for one reason or another. We knew who the “outsiders” were. Perhaps we were the outsiders. So it’s fun to imagine the “outsider” growing up and seeking revenge against those who hurt him in the past.
However, Nighttime Is My Time takes the concept way too far. It was unrealistic to think that someone would go to the extremes we see in this book. The ends did not justify the means – not even when viewed through the forgiving lens of a thriller. In other words, it goes way beyond the pale – making the entire story ho-hum in my opinion.
Further hurting the story was the sheer unlikeability of nearly all of the characters. And believe me, there’s a huge list of characters for us to dislike. Pretty much all of the reunion-goers. And a few of the others. Including an obnoxious kid who fancies himself a photo-journalist. For the most part, he’s just a pain in the neck butting into everybody’s business.
Then there’s the rampant stupidity. Or, as I call it, the eye-rolling factor. When you know that you’re in danger, do you take off, by yourself, just because someone calls you and tells you do so? Or, do you arrange for backup, or at least let someone know where you plan to be and when you plan to be back.
Secondly, when you know you were duped once before by someone pretending to be someone else on the phone, do you fall for it again? And again?
Lastly, we have our bad guy. He’s pretty clever. His crimes have been pretty much perfect over the years. No one has ever considered him a suspect in anything. Yet he feels the need to leave a single clue at every one of his crime scenes. How those clues didn’t tie back to him in the past is a matter of sheer luck on his part (not to mention incompetence on the part of the authorities). Yet, he continues this behavior, even knowing that it’s likely to get him in trouble, at some point.
So, as you can tell, I’m not overly fond of Nighttime Is My Time. Mary Higgins Clark can do better – much better.
Also by Mary Higgins Clark: