Thank you to Netgalley and publisher Dutton Books for my copy of this book. I had heard very good things about this Author, and having not read any books by Sager yet, I wanted to give this book a go.
It’s November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana’s in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.
Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father. Or so he says. Like the Hitchcock heroine she’s named after, Charlie has her doubts. There’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t seem to want Charlie to see inside the car’s trunk. As they travel an empty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly worried Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s suspicion merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?
What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse played out on night-shrouded roads and in neon-lit parking lots, during an age when the only call for help can be made on a pay phone and in a place where there’s nowhere to run. In order to win, Charlie must do one thing–survive the night.
Well this book takes place over one night, as could be guessed from the title. From receiving my copy to beginning to read it, I didn’t read too many reviews or re read the blurb. So I went in a little blind. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was set in 1991, which meant no mobile phones or internet. It was nice to revisit this time, and I have to say it makes thrillers seem more dangerous as you can’t just call for help on your phone.
The plot begins with the main character Charlie, we learn that her best friend has been murdered on a night out. Charlie feels guilty and wants to leave campus and get home. As she isn’t able to drive herself home she looks for a travel buddy to car share with. Here enters Josh. The majority of the story is between these two characters and told from their points of view.
Because the chapters are written from the two main characters point of view, I got a good sense of who they both are. Personally I didn’t like Charlie and after the first few chapters, any sympathy that I had for her was gone. I found her to be one of the most stupid characters I have ever read about. She made terrible decisions concerning her own safety and I don’t think this was due to lack of common sense I think she just decided to do stupid things. Charlie was a very frustrating character to me. The only positive part of her that I liked was that she used a lot of movie references. These were entertaining and helped to get a better idea of who she was and why she was as she is.
Josh on the other hand was a bit more interesting. I had a few theories about who he was while I read the chapters. I won’t say too much about that because it would lead to spoilers. The writing was easy to read and flowed well.
As we were reading this as part of a book club we ended up reading it much faster than we initially planned.
Overall I have to say that sadly I was a bit disappointed with this book. All the chapters lasted the one night, but then at the very end goes years to the future and tells us what happened there. Again I found Charlie to be continuing to make bad decisions.
I wouldn’t be against reading another book by this author as the writing style and the idea of the plot was good. I just felt to strongly that the decisions made were a little ridiculous. There was also a part of Charlie’s character where she had what she called ” movies in her mind” . It was left unclear whether this was a mental health condition or just part of Charlie’s coping mechanism. ( perhaps it’s the same thing?) I would have liked the epilogue to make this a bit clearer as I felt it was quite a big part of the story that wasn’t explored and explained to the reader enough.