Author: Nancy Mehl
*Thank you Netgalley and Bethany House Publishers for the eARC. All opinions in this review are my own.
Night Fall in a Nutshell
Night Fall is a fast-paced Christian suspense novel that gives readers a look into the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit and a serial killer’s disturbing delusions.
The Train Man strikes at night, killing his victims at random and tagging nearby train cars with verses from his unholy Book. His mission is simple: make six sacrifices before ushering in the apocalypse; that is, murdering a third of the population with a deadly virus. When the case hits the desk of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, SSA Alex Donovan recognizes the Train Man’s tags, and the cult they originate from, immediately. The hunt for the serial killer forces her to finally face the traumatic childhood she spent most of her life outrunning.
Night Fall is a fast-paced Christian suspense novel that blends real crime investigation with questions of faith and destiny.
What I liked about the book:
Night Fall hooked me at the first sentence. I loved that we were able to see into the Train Man’s twisted psyche in several parts of the book, but leading with this unique perspective was genius. Adam’s perspective was by far my favorite aspect of the book. Nancy Mehl painted a completely believable, heart-breaking, and totally evil killer. I genuinely had nightmares the entire time I read the book.
Contrasting Light and Dark, “Angels” and “Demons”
Members of the Train Man’s cult believe that the world is populated by either angels or demons. You don’t get to choose whether you’re an angel or demon. You’re born into one or the other. The novel sharply contrasts this twisted faith with the redeeming grace Christianity offers.
Trauma and PTSD:
The novel also contrasts Alex and Adam (the Train Man). Both were child-victims of the same cult, yet they lead very different lifestyles. As a protagonist, Alex’s weaknesses are her best attribute. While she’s as tough as nails, she’s also very vulnerable. Night Fall doesn’t try to create a stereotypical agent. She struggles severely with anxiety, PTSD, and obsessive compulsive disorder.
What I Didn’t Like:
Alex and Logan discover the identity and ultimate goal of the serial killer immediately.
Ohhhh, I really did not like this twist.
I was looking forward to seeing the BAU in action, watching the cat and mouse game as Alex discovers the identity of her UNSUB. For his identity and main goal to be revealed in basically the first few pages…that was tough. I don’t think I would have even minded it so much if Alex would’ve discovered these facts early. But this critical information was revealed by a fellow agent that learned about it from a phone call. This stole a lot of the suspense and thrill away from me.
The meetings, debriefings, rehashings, etc.
It’s extremely obvious that Nancy Mehl did her fair share of research on the BAU and crime investigations before writing this book. For the most part, I appreciated that throughout the book. However, the meetings really slowed things down for me. Given, the BAU probably hosts a mass of meetings in real life, but I (as a simple reader) struggled with this.
At one point, Alex presents her findings to the rest of the team. She reveals tidbits about the serial killer that she discovered from her research. I would have loved to be there with her as she’s making these discoveries, not reading the summary. Also, meetings seemed to serve as “info dumps.” The killer’s name and agenda was revealed in a meeting. His family history was revealed in a meeting. Even some of the BAU’s procedures were revealed in a meeting. These info dumps cheapened the story for me.
Some of the “The Message”
Please don’t misunderstand, I am ALL FOR overt Christian themes in books. I think Christian authors should boldly put their faith on a page. So, even if these messages don’t appeal to some readers, it will to the people that need it the most. Unfortunately, some of the internal monologue or even the conversations sounded a little cliché, like Christianese.
Would I Recommend?
For the reasons listed above, Night Fall just wasn’t my cup of tea. Having said that, I think the author’s very talented and I believe many people will Night Fall. I think it comes down to personal preference on this one. Well-written and written, Night Fall offers a unique, faith-based perspective on criminology and a fast-paced storyline. If you enjoy the suspense and thriller genres, I would definitely check it out.