The Lost Night is Andrea Bartz’s debut novel and a strong start, though not without a few small missteps along the way. The novel follows Lindsay Bach as she dives into a vice-addled past to discover what truly happened to her friend Edie one sweltering Brooklyn evening in 2009, one which Lindsay can barely recollect. Edie allegedly committed suicide in her apartment that night. Ten years later, after a catchup with one of Lindsay’s friends, she’s cast into doubt as to how truthful Edie’s suicide really was. Lindsay needs to dig through the memories of her old friends and what little digital evidence remains.
At first the world-weary prose drags on for a bit, smoothing itself out as the book moved on. Once the story picks up, the tight pacing pushes the story forward at a scream and will leave you in that sweet-spot hallmark of a good book, pushing you to read just a little more before you need to sleep or eat. It’s tightly wound, urging you to keep going.
The character work was mostly well-executed as well. Lindsay carries herself with an undertone of desperateness brought forth by age, exacerbated by her research into the past and regrets of the life she used to live. Her reactions are genuine and she goes through meaningful changes—though not always for the better. Some of the other characters don’t fare as well, and at times the story falls into a spot of “name soup.” Many felt same-y, as though a bit more time spent with those characters would have fixed that.
We see Lindsay explore a lifestyle she left behind, a self-destructive and reckless one which she both regrets and misses at the same time. This angle works well, and has the story pushing introspections outside of the book itself, having the reader look back into their own youth and questioning whether or not you missed it.
The Lost Night is well-researched, though again with a few caveats. The locations, feelings of the neighborhoods Lindsay traverses, and the lifestyles of both 2009 and 2019 ring true. It’s an odd bit of time to be nostalgic for, but it worked. A few of the technology portions didn’t quite add up, though it did not detract from or break any part of the story.
Without spoiling the ending of the book, it is a mystery and there are a few twists. Some were expected, though one towards the end came as a surprise. Unfortunately, the book continued just a bit past where it should have ended, and a better ending might have been lost in that process of over-telling the story.
Bartz should be proud of what she achieved with The Lost Night, as it lifts itself into the league of thrillers occupied by Hawkins and Flynn, one which I hope she stays in with her next forays into the genre.