White Midnight By Daniel Culver
Elizabeth Nowicki, a British woman and self-confessed stoic, settles down in the seemingly idyllic American town of Midnight, with her new husband and his two children. Six months on, life as a step mom is harder than she thought, and the shine of the American Dream has already worn off.
Bored and lonely, Elizabeth is drawn into a nightmare when someone in a duck mask murders two local cops…and the investigation reaches her new neighbourhood. When this is followed by strange happenings across the street, leading to another death, Elizabeth starts to conduct her own investigation….but can she find the killer before the killer finds her?
‘A duck walks into a bar. Nobody gets the joke’
The novel opens with a random and unusual shooting at a bar. Four off-duty cops are gunned down and in turn the plot is set from the opening pages. But this is far from your average day-to-day read. This novel is packed with quirky and strange behaviour, that has you desperate to know how it ends…
The protagonist Elizabeth Nowicki is a newlywed immigrant to the United States. Having given up her live in London, for life in the snowy town of Midnight. The marriage is one of seemingly convenience, with Elizabeth’s desire for a green card and her husband Luca’s requirement of a stay at home mum for his two young children. I found their set-up fascinating and wondered if it was truly based on love or necessity.
Elizabeth is a self-confessed outsider, life in Midnight is no different to her previous lonely life. She tries to invest her time in her step-children Nico and Khloe. But their home lacks the usual warmth and so does Midnight……
‘The street is just a barren landscape of white’
Midnight has a population of just 29,935. It is a town that is praised for its low crime rate but is steeped in local legend and folklore. It is brimming with secrets and so are each of its residents. The gossip and speculation are rife, and Elizabeth is never certain, if she can believe any of what she is told.
‘Gossip seems to ferment forever in the little township of Midnight’
Whilst Elizabeth is shovelling her icy drive, she notices a newspaper with the headline MIDNIGHT MASSACRE. It is a headline, that will lead Elizabeth to internally question everyone she knows. But the residents of Midnight aren’t the only ones with secrets…..
‘My mother is dead; she didn’t die; she was killed by someone who was eternally angry at the world’
Elizabeth has only one friend in Midnight, local busybody Marie Paladino. For someone who also lives quite an isolated life, Marie knows everyone’s business. She fills Elizabeth’s head full of stories about all the residents of their small quiet street. Whether she embellishes her tales, is for you, the reader to decide.
‘Everyone goes missing in Midnight’
The novel slowly unfolds, and we begin to learn about Elizabeth’s past and those of her neighbours. The teenage girl that went missing a decade ago. The previous owners of her house, whom vanished in the night. The local hoodlum Billy and his cop father. Marie is certain not to leave anybody out, as she administers her judgements and assumptions. The rumours leave Elizabeth, and the reader with many questions.
Whilst Elizabeth is trying to fathom the goings-on of Midnight. Billy’s cop father is shot and killed. Is there a serial killer in the neighbourhood? Was Leona Main abducted? If so by whom? Was it the working of the same killer?
To help in her pursuit of the killer. Elizabeth asks her step-son Nico to help her create a Facebook page. The trap is set.
But who can she trust?
‘Friendship only serves to massage one’s own ego’
As Elizabeth battles the solitude of Midnight, Luca neglects his wife and children. Too often choosing his career prospects over their happiness. Rather than deal with her own situation, Elizabeth is fuelled to compile her own dossiers on the neighbour’s activities. Which makes for intriguing reading.
The facts of her case present like blood drops on the snow. But can Elizabeth connect the dots and catch a killer?
As stated above the novel is extremely quirky at the opening. But it has a dark crime at its core. At moments it reminded me of the 1980’s film The Burbs, with the strange neighbours and assumptions of their wrongdoing. The ending however, brings it home as a dark crime thriller. 5*
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