Midnight by Amy McCulloch @amymcculloch @doubledaybooks @sophiarose1816

Posted January 7, 2024 by Sophia in Book Review / 22 Comments

Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Midnight by Amy McCulloch @amymcculloch @doubledaybooks @sophiarose1816Midnight by Amy McCullogh
Published by Doubleday on January 2, 2024
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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Olivia Campbell has always dreamed of spending a sunlit night on the frigid Antarctic continent. But as an actuary who assesses risk for a living, she never imagined she would have the chance. So when her career takes an unexpected detour, and her boyfriend—a high-powered art dealer with a taste for the finer things in life—decides to stage an ostentatious, career-making auction on a luxury liner to Antarctica, Olivia is thrilled. That is, until things start to feel a bit strange. In addition to the scores of wealthy patrons and potential buyers, they'll also be traveling alongside a small group of beleaguered employees of Pioneer Adventures—the company responsible for managing the ship—and their charismatic, divisive CEO.

When the first bodies are discovered, it's easy enough for Olivia to write it off as a terrible accident. But as the situation heats up and the temperatures continue to plummet, she begins to wonder whether she might have booked a one-way ticket to her own demise.

After reading Amy McCulloch’s debut adult thriller, Breathless, in the extreme geographic setting of climbing one of the world’s highest summits where survival is not guaranteed particularly when a murderer is part of the climbing party, I was primed and ready for her next standalone, Midnight, set against the frontier of Antarctica.

Like any good thriller, the main character and those surrounding her are as much of a curious enigma as the action part of the plot, which yes, involves multiple murders.  I appreciated how this was another situation where a group is isolated and trapped with a murderer while on the fortified icebreaker/cruise ship and on Antarctica, itself.

Speaking of Antarctica… the setting is a vital element in the story beginning with the intriguing town that is the jumping off point for Antarctic explorers and visitors, to the region of sea known for storms to flare up, and the details about the warming threat to Antarctica, the glaciers, the wildlife, and even the special ship that has been outfitted with luxurious accommodations and the adventures of kayaking around glaciers and the Antarctic shore and camping on the shore.  The attention to gear and precautions makes the reader feel the adventure suspense of the location.

The art element about the dead artist who painted and drew Antarctica as his muse and the way the cruise was as much about his exquisite work that wealthy bidders were there to get the original and see the other prints on display while cruising the settings.

The thriller part was interesting.  The main character has a water phobia and has recently experienced total burnout from all the stresses in her life she was ignoring.  She’s as shaky as it gets so one is meant to wonder if she’s an unreliable narrator or is someone toying with her as their next victim.  Olivia is the sole narrator except for one brief scene in the beginning from the murderer’s POV.  She’s not strong or particularly brilliant, but she does have long-buried survival skills her dad taught her that she recalls as the ship carries them further from civilization.

I could appreciate the build of suspense and the way all the characters and their activities made for potential suspects, but I latched onto the correct villain nearly from the start and picked up on the motive as soon as I was given enough facts to piece it together.  This didn’t diminish my suspense because then I was muttering at my device when Olivia was making the wrong assumptions and putting herself into worse danger.  One of her wrong assumptions was rather dumb.  She didn’t even try to find out if someone she suspected could be telling her the truth even when they offered her a way to verify.  I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt that between her great fears, isolation, and mounting panic that she wasn’t firing on all cylinders.  Plus, it did make it more exciting.

All in all, this was a solid good thriller and a fabulous setting for one I can heartily recommend for a chilling winter read.


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Posted January 7, 2024 by Sophia in Book Review / 22 Comments

22 responses to “Midnight by Amy McCulloch

  1. Adding this to my massive list of thrillers that I really must read. I absolutely love the setting and the fact that the main character isn’t brilliant or perfect is also a selling point.