Verdict: A LIFETIME LAST NIGHT offers some brights spots, but needs to show rather than tell to be a more compelling, and less preachy, tale.
Richard Dunham wakes up in an ICU, only to find that everyone is calling him “Michael Riordan.” The name is among the few things he remembers; the mystery deepens when a stranger appears with an unbelievable explanation.
The intriguing opening of the book does not herald a suspenseful and engaging story, although the mystery has a few good stretches. The biggest problem with the book is that it violates the basic “rule” of storytelling: show, don’t tell. For example, the female protagonist’s entire backstory is delivered to the reader in a long essay. Instead of showing the protagonist’s struggle to understand himself, the author summarizes it for us:
“The process of remembering and writing it all down had been therapeutic, offering insights into his former life that were available only from this new perspective.”
The description, of merchandise for example, continues for several paragraphs, goes on for the next several paragraphs. This would be fine except that the descriptions dominate the book to the detriment of character development and pacing.
The best section of the book is when the author actually shows us the action, and the stakes begin to matter (along with some nice plot twists), but it is cut short when the author abandons the main premise of the story. In addition, rather than allowing the tale to stand for the points the author is trying to make, there are at least three separate sections many pages long in which these homilies are driven home with no subtlety and little originality, as in the following speech:
“Remember this. It is always the darkest before the dawn. Do not be fooled by the darkness. It is merely the absence of light. Follow your heart, for it will light the way.”
The two main supporting cast members, Phillip, a privileged politician, and Tom, the cop who routinely abuses his authority, are shallow caricatures, making it difficult to understand why anyone would continue having a relationship with either of them.
A LIFETIME LAST NIGHT offers some brights spots, but needs to show rather than tell to be a more compelling, and less preachy, tale.
Reviewed by Jodi McMaster for Indie Reader.