Book Review: Nightmare / Author: Stephen Leather / Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks / Release Date: Out Now
Jack Nightingale, a jaded ex-cop now turned supernatural detective, becomes the lead suspect of a criminal investigation when the victim of a gang-land shooting starts calling out his name. The police are already interested in Jack from the events of the previous two books and a suspiciously large body count – people tend to die when Jack’s around. Quick to jump the gun, the cops haul him in for questioning, demanding that Jack admit to this latest murder. The fact that the guy isn’t actually dead yet is a mere detail to be conveniently ignored. But (and this shouldn’t come as any real surprise) they can’t pin a single shred of evidence upon our hero and the cops are forced to let him go. Although they haul him in from time to time, convinced he’s got something to do with it, somewhere along the lines. Jack, in turn, is haunted by the spirit of the dead girl, Sophie, who Jack once tried to talk down from throwing herself off a ledge and failed. Sophie, as it transpires, is entering the bodies of people near death and calling out Jack’s name. She needs help and only Jack Nightingale can save her. Armed with his detective skills, his ever-faithful (doormat) companion, Nightingale sets out to solve this new and intriguing mystery.
Nightmare is a fairly straight-forward read. It tends to be fast-paced, not too deep, and engaging enough to become likable. As an added bonus, Leather’s writing style is easy to absorb, and the novel can be read in a relatively short period of time. Unfortunately, early on the plot becomes repetitive with extended chapters taking place in a police interview room with what feels like a large slice of padding. These scenes, to be frank, are painful.
Which is a shame, because despite these flaws, Nightmare picks up a head of steam, makes for a good novel, and manages to deliver a couple of genuine shockers along the way. There’s a bit with a mirror that’s particularly scary.
Nightmare is a throwback to the gritty crime novels of the ‘70’s and ‘80’s; smart detective with a two packs a day habit running rings around bumbling detectives. With a flippant attitude to mask his fear of failure, support by the glamorous but ultimately unnoticed assistant, Jack devil-dodges his way through a ring of satanic influence in the hope of getting to the bottom of this particular tale.
Stephen Leather’s new novel makes for an entertaining read. Leather can tell a good story and provides the odd laugh (perhaps not intentional) from time to time. Nightmare may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it makes for a solid, engrossing read. Fans of the series won’t be disappointed and newcomers won’t have to read the earlier books to get a sense of what’s going on as Leather takes pains to bring everyone up to speed.
One to be recommended