‘Survive the Night’ – Riley Sager

Another solid Sager read, where you suspect one or two of the details thrown your way and are just feeling quite satisfied when another detail is slipped in that throws a curveball. I’m not going to pretend all the film references worked for me, and there is a rather superior tone to this that occasionally had me feeling it was all about being just that bit cleverer than your readers, but I devoured this book. It’s a definite 4.5 stars for me, but I can’t go all in for reasons I’ll explain later.

A gripping read, that depends on some twists coming at you from the darkness so I don’t want to give away crucial details in this review.

We know the book centres on Charlie, a student who is struggling to come to terms with her part in the murder of her room-mate at the hands of the infamous Campus Killer. She is in a car with a relative stranger, Josh, who has offered a lift. Understandably nervous, Charlie cannot decide how much of her fear about Josh is in her head. As they drive, little details hint strongly that Charlie might be right to be afraid. Why won’t he let her see in the trunk? Why does his driving licence have a different name? Why does he follow her out of the diner when she tries to call her boyfriend?

The growing sense of unease as Charlie and Josh travel along quiet roads is palpable. Deliberately slow, but it reels you in. Just when we – and Charlie – think we’ve worked it out, there’s an abrupt shift.

Things pick up the pace after this point (almost too fast on occasion) and we soon find ourselves in a technicolour drama. Charlie’s obvious mental health issues and obsessive film referencing made it difficult to know to what extent she could be trusted at times. There’s a couple of moments where – when you’re not caught up in them – things seem just too convenient. While it was good to get some answers and be vindicated in some judgments, the big revelation rather came from nowhere.

I’m, once again, very grateful to have been given the opportunity via NetGalley to read this prior to publication.