After Nightfall by A.J. Banner, 3.5 Stars

The cover of this book really attracted it to me. I love the beach and contrast of red and black. Maybe I’m just fantasizing about the beach and summer nights? Current situation–46 and rainy. As I write this, it’s March 31. So by the time you read this in July, I’ll likely be complaining about the heat and humidity.

I’ve also read Twilight Wife by Banner, and liking it, so I though I’d give Banner’s next novel a try. I’ve noticed her books are set in beachy settings, which I enjoy. They are obviously less beachy than say an Elin Hilderbrand novel, but also have more edge which I enjoy.

So, without further delay…

From the Publisher:

Beware of friends with secrets…

Imagine your closest friend utterly betraying you. Years later, when she seeks forgiveness, you invite her to your engagement party as a gesture of reconciliation. But seething hostilities rise to the surface, ruining everyone’s evening. After an awful night, your friend’s battered, lifeless body is found at the bottom of a rocky cliff.

Newly engaged Marissa Parlette is living this nightmare. She should be celebrating her upcoming wedding, but she can’t shake the image of her friend lying dead on the beach. Did she fall? Was she pushed? Or did she take a purposeful step into darkness? Desperate for answers, Marissa digs deep into the events of the party. But what she remembers happening after nightfall now carries sinister implications: the ugly sniping, the clandestine meetings, the drunken flirtations. The more she investigates, the more she questions everything she thought she knew about her friends, the man she once trusted, and even herself.

Bestselling author A. J. Banner keeps readers on a razor-sharp edge in this intricately plotted novel of psychological suspense…in which nothing is as it seems.

My Review:

The book opens on a dinner party where Marissa and her fiance, Nathan are announcing their engagement. An old friend, Lauren, is there with her husband and despite that is flirting with Nathan. I think we’ve all had that friend, right? That no matter how happy you or she is in your respective relationships, she throws herself at your man simply because she needs affirmation and attention? Annoying!

Just that fact alone really sets the stage for the type of “friendship” that Marissa and Lauren have. More like keep your friends close and your enemies closer! But the evening goes on which seems like a nice party, but there is definitely tension there.

When Marissa finds Lauren’s body at the bottom of a rocky cliff outside their home the next morning, the scene is set for a classic who-dunn-it. From the onset, I thought it was Nathan with the candlestick in the library. Not really. But its a fun situation (hmm, I find this fun), where we aren’t sure who has motive (maybe everybody) and opportunity. Everybody is a suspect.

I enjoyed this book. It was a quick read. You can put it down and pick right back up where you left it. The characters are clearly written and developed. I did think Marissa was a little bit of a sucker to let Lauren back into her life after what she and her husband had done to her in the past, but it’s probably actually something I would do so….

Overall I definitely recommend this book for a good light, albeit slightly suspenseful beach read. Definitely more of a mystery than anything else. It releases in August, so it should time perfectly with whatever beach get-aways you have planned this summer

Thanks to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for a free e-galley in exchange for my honest review.

Pre-order your copy!


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