Chevy Steven's latest book That Night, is newly released.
"I traced the lines of my tattoos, counting the years, thinking back to that summer. I was thirty-four now and had been in custody since I was eighteen, when Ryan and I were arrested for my sister's murder."
Toni Murphy knows she and Ryan are innocent. But it made no difference. The trial was a joke - and the witnesses lied. They know what really happened that night. Toni just wants to reclaim her life after so many years locked up and returns to Campbell River to start over, but the past just won't leave her alone.
Stevens has written That Night in a past and present narrative - all through Toni's eyes. We learn what led up to that fateful night as she struggles in present day to rebuild her life.
Campbell River is home to some mean girls. Really mean girls. The degree of bullying is more than uncomfortable to read about, especially in light of recent news stories. The response of some of the adult figures is disturbing. But on the other hand, I found myself asking Toni out loud...why would you....? There are some dubious choices made and some questionable actions taken that help to seal Toni's fate - from both Toni herself and the adults in the book, including her parents. (They bullying theme is continued in the present day prison chapters as well.)
But it's fiction right? Stevens has given the reader lots of scenarios to react to.
Having just read Orange is the New Black, I found many of the details and scenes of Toni's prison time somewhat familiar - the running on the track, the foot massages, the mother figure who works in the kitchen and more.
The reader has a pretty good idea who has killed Nicole from the beginning and the novel is more about confirming that and proving Toni and Ryan's innocence. (Although Stevens does throw in a nice little twist) There are no real details of the crime or court case given. Instead the focus is on our protagonist, fighting back - against mean girls in her youth, against her own family, against mean girls in prison, against...
Who will enjoy That Night? Well, there's a lot of YA in the past chapters - teenage angst, rebellion, young love, loving the local bad boy etc. So if you had a little of that bad girl in you in your younger years (or wish you did) you'll enjoy sharing Toni's early years. Stevens does brings a real note of truth to adult Toni's life with her struggle to re-enter society after prison. And of course, there's always the question - does she ever see Ryan again? Can she clear her name? Beat the mean girls?
I enjoyed the Canadian setting, having visited the areas described. Stevens makes her home in the area and brings it to the page very well.
In my opinion, That Night is not quite the 'taut thriller' the cover blurb advertises, but it is an entertaining read and would be a good addition to your beach bag this year. Read an excerpt of That Night. You can find Chevy Stevens on Facebook and on Twitter.