Series: The Quantico Files #1
Published by Bethany House on March 30, 2021
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Suspense
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Now that Alexandra "Alex" Donavan is finally free of her troubled upbringing, she's able to live out her childhood dream of working for the FBI. But soon after she becomes a member of the FBI's elite Behavioral Analysis Unit, authorities in Kansas and Missouri contact them about bodies found on freight trains traveling across the country--all killed in the same way.
Alex never expected to be forced to confront her past in this new job, but she immediately recognizes the graffiti messages the killer is leaving on the train cars. When the BAU sends her to gather information about the messages from her aunt in Wichita, Kansas, Alex is haunted by the struggles she thought she'd left behind forever.
In a race against time to solve the case while battling her own weaknesses, Alex must face how far she'll go--and what she's willing to risk--to put a stop to the Train Killer.
As a novelist myself, I know just how much time, heart, and research goes into writing a novel like Night Fall by Nancy Mehl. It hurts me to negatively review books, but Night Fall disappointed me. I only really enjoyed the last twenty percent of the story. The rest left me wanting far, far more. I did not find this book “suspenseful,” despite the premise. A serial killer tagging train cars? The FBI’s famous and well-respected Behavioral Analysis Unit taking center stage? I couldn’t say “sign me up” fast enough when given the opportunity to read Night Fall. But it didn’t take long for me to set reading goals for the novel.
I read ten to fifteen percent of Night Fall per day; I could only stomach that much. Up until I forced myself through the final mile of the marathon to cross the finish line. I loved the TV show Criminal Minds. Netflix’s series Mindhunter drew me in within the first ten minutes. I’ve read John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker’s book of the same title, and their November 2020 work, The Killer’s Shadow. Needless to say, behavioral analysis catches my attention. While Night Fall may have presented an accurate depiction of how the BAU operates, this doesn’t necessarily make for a good novel.
Meetings. Mehl strangles Night Fall’s readers with them. If it’s not an in-person meeting, the characters are on video chats, phone calls, or talking in vehicles, hotels, or conference rooms. I skipped paragraphs, hoping to find endings to the discussions. It was exhausting and boring, even with all the mumbo-jumbo about analyzing the killer’s psyche. Night Fall actually reminded me of a Criminal Minds episode. Readers witness glimpses of the killer’s real-time activities, and the authorities are in a race against time before he kills again. Differences do exist—Mehl reveals the killer’s identity from the start, and Night Fall was not half as exciting. At least, not for me.
Meetings are boring. Period. I wanted the characters to do something, but this didn’t really happen until close to the end, and at that point, they broke FBI protocols and worried about keeping their jobs. Furthermore, I read Night Fall by Nancy Mehl expecting a romantic suspense novel. What occurred in Night Fall wasn’t romance. Attraction? Maybe. Even then, the “attraction” centered on mostly physical attributes. In a past novel I critiqued, I said the romance overpowered everything else. Well, in Night Fall, everything else overshadowed the romance to the point I wish it just hadn’t been there.
I’d be interested to see if the romance between Alex and Logan expands in later novels in The Quantico Files series but not interested enough to seek out further books…or any other Nancy Mehl books, for that matter. Night Fall does have positive qualities; it very creative and well researched. I loved the contrast between Alex and the serial killer. They shared similar backgrounds, yet one chose to pursue law and order, and the other turned into a psychopath. Overall, however, Night Fall by Nancy Mehl was a lackluster letdown.