That Night by Chevy Stevens

THAT
That Night by Chevy Stevens
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (372 pgs)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

As a teenager, Toni Murphy had a life full of typical adolescent  complications: a boyfriend she adored, a younger sister she couldn’t relate to, a strained relationship with her parents, and classmates who seemed hell-bent on making her life miserable. Things weren’t easy, but Toni could never have predicted how horrific they would become until her younger sister was brutally murdered one summer night.

Toni and her boyfriend, Ryan, were convicted of the murder and sent to prison.

Now thirty-four, Toni is out on parole and back in her hometown, struggling to adjust to a new life on the outside. Prison changed her, hardened her, and she’s doing everything in her power to avoid violating her parole and going back. This means having absolutely no contact with Ryan, avoiding fellow parolees looking to pick fights, and steering clear of trouble in all its forms. But nothing is making that easy—not Ryan, who is convinced he can figure out the truth; not her mother, who doubts Toni’s innocence; and certainly not the group of women who made Toni’s life hell in high school and may have darker secrets than anyone realizes. No matter how hard she tries, ignoring her old life to start a new one is impossible. Before Toni can truly move on, she must risk everything to find out what really happened that night.

But the truth might be the most terrifying thing of all.

The premise of That Night drew me in. A young girl and her boyfriend are accused of murdering her sister, they are convicted; serve twelve years in prison, but the problem is they didn’t do it.

The story is told in the first person through Toni, one of the accused, and sister of the victim, Nicole. I have to admit, first person is one of my favorite points of view, especially for the mystery genre. It begins with Toni’s release from prison and flashes backward and forward to the time before the murder and then back to present day and Toni’s reintroduction into society.

I really tried to like the character of Toni but have to say I just couldn’t and I think that’s maybe one of the reasons this story didn’t work for me. She came across as her own worst enemy. Yes, she’s the victim of school bullies, parents that seemed to favor her younger sister, but somehow I couldn’t cheer her on her journey to put back her life and maybe find out who did really kill her sibling.

One other thing that I felt weakened the story was most of it was told to us rather than showed. I did like the suspense that was added that maybe Nicole was seeing a man, and that perhaps he had something to do with her death. I was hoping to see more of the mystery unfold once Toni and Ryan met up again, but it seemed like there were coincidences and people finally cracking up under the pressure of their secrets, and I guessed the outcome before it arrived.

What I did like was the dialogue and the pacing was spot on. I also liked the structure of the story, present day, past, and then back to what was happening with Toni. The setting was also a strong point.

One thing that did cross my mind while I was reading That Night was that younger adults, maybe those in the 14-21 age range, would find this a great read and maybe connect with Toni more than I did.

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