A Cry in the Night by Tom Grieves

A Cry In The NightA Cry In The Night by Tom Grieves

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I would give A Cry in The Night 4.5 stars, because, although I absolutely loved so many things about it, I found some of the sex and violence upsetting.
That said, this is a brilliant read with quite a “wow” factor. It’s a suspense novel that is more than the sum of its parts, a character study, a story about friendship, grieving, loneliness, madness, mob mentalities, male-female relations, and abuse of power. It genuinely delves into all these issues in a deep and organic way, as well as being a compelling mystery with a strong sense of place.
A Cry in the Night starts with a prologue that is like a little, perfectly written, piece of art all in itself. This prologue depicts a terrible episode in the past of the Lake District town of Lullingdale, a brief, mad time in which the town women were accused of, and persecuted for, witchcraft. After the lyrical prologue, the novel properly starts in the present day, and follows the investigation into the disappearance of two children by a pair of Manchester police officers.
Sam is a father and recent widower, trying to cope with his grief and keep it together enough to raise his teenaged daughters. Zoe is his young partner, enthusiastic, courageous, and struggling to carve out a meaningful place in a career that is still, almost exclusively, a man’s world.
When Sam and Zoe arrive in Lullingdale, they encounter an insular group of villagers who reference witchcraft in the same breath as the disappearance of their children. As the detectives investigate, it becomes unclear to them, and to the reader, where the line between reality, madness, and the supernatural, lie.
One of the most enjoyable things about this novel for me was that I really had no idea what direction it would end up taking. Without giving away any spoilers, I can say that the story explored the way in which group fear can lead “normal” people to do horrific things. I also really loved how the author used the setting, a small, snowy village next to a deep, unfathomable lake, to create in turn a strong sense of paranoia, claustrophobia, powerlessness, and also beauty.
A Cry in the Night was a complex book, but a fast and addictive read. I have already ordered Sleepwalkers, Grieves’ first novel, and am excited to discover in him a new and unique literary talent.

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