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by Harriet Tyce
Sourcebooks Landmark, February 2023
320 pages
ISBN: 1728263840

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

IT ENDS AT MIDNIGHT joins the legions of books with unreliable narrators and hidden identities. Sylvie is a British lawyer, striving to become a judge when the life she has so carefully constructed shatters. Her best friend gives her news that changes everything, along with demands that Sylvie help her apologize for past misdeeds. The book moves between the effects of those demands on Sylvie in the present and flashbacks to the past when those misdeeds took place. At the same time, Sylvie is the judge in a trial that brings back memories of the past that she has successfully repressed as well as threatening her desires to move up in the legal world. Her entire world seems to be disintegrating around her.

Unfortunately, Sylvie is not a sympathetic character. She is almost constantly drunk (both in the past and present), she makes choices no seasoned member of the legal profession should even consider making, and she deals with adversity by simply falling apart. None of the other characters is likeable either, leaving the reader no real emotional connection to the book. There is, however, the intellectual connection as we attempt to figure out what is actually going on and whether anyone is who they seem to be. The ending of the book is ludicrous, with characters metaphorically making the choice of a barn full of chainsaws instead of an idling car as their place of safety.

The structure of the book was interesting. The reader is taken through spiralling perspectives, from a bloody scene (of a crime, or an accident, we're not sure until the end of the book), to drunken teenagers making poor choices decades ago, to current 40-something characters making equally poor choices. I particularly liked the first chapter, which is a prologue, though not specifically identified as such. The author managed to insert us into Sylvie's mind, in spite of the many holes and unlikely events in the plot. The book somehow managed to keep me interested; it was a bit like watching a trainwreck.

Overall, this was a quick diversion…though somewhat immersive.

§ Sharon Mensing, retired educational leader, lives, reads, and enjoys the outdoors in Arizona.

Reviewed by Sharon Mensing, February 2023

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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