The Other Side of Night, Adam Hamdy (Atria Books 978-1-9821-9618-9, $27.00, hc, 282pp) September 2022. Cover by Jim Tierney.
For much of his complex and thoughtful book, Adam Hamdy’s The Other Side of Night presents as a tightly crafted crime novel. There is a child possibly in peril, a dogged former cop who lost her job despite being very good at it, two murders (maybe), and many red herrings. The preface hints at something else at work, a plot thread or two dangled as a tease for readers, but as soon as Harriet Kealty shows up, it’s all about the detecting. Hamdy is so good at detecting that he made me forget this was science fiction, which, of course, made the big surprises later all that much more of a thrill.
‘‘Harri’’ is a bewildered former police officer whose career was ruined and who cannot imagine building a new future without it. She latches onto the slightest of mysteries – a few lines scrawled into a used bookstore purchase – and soon finds herself researching the death of a scientist and questioning what happened to her missing husband and orphaned son. The coincidence that the boy should end up in the care of the man who broke Harri’s heart is impossible for her to believe, and spurs her to look even deeper into the events that led to what she is certain was at least one murder. As she tries to convince her skeptical former partner, still a police officer, to help, the danger ramps up until there is a devastating accident. (Or is it an accident? Harri is a witness, and even she can’t be sure.) It seems like Harri has solved everything, except why any of it happened, and that bothers her, just as it will bother the reader who will realize that when it’s all tied up in a bow, there are still a lot pages remaining. The criminal has been caught, tried, and convicted. Harri is vindicated. The child is safe. Then Hamdy shows the reader everything they have missed.
The Other Side of Night keeps the pages turning with its fast-paced plot, and Harri, with all her frustrations and fury, is a detecting star. But as the crime spins into something else and the intricacies of Hamdy’s work are revealed, I found myself turning back the pages to reconsider earlier asides in the text that suggested one thing at the time but later appear to be something else entirely. The final reveal is worthy of the drama that gets you there, but is also quite emotional. It recasts the entire plot into far less a crime saga and much more a love story, indeed many love stories. The Other Side of Night is smart, and thrilling and suspenseful, but in the end it made me smile because it was tender, and in this world, whenever we can get it, we all could use a lot more tenderness. Thank you for this one, Mr. Hamdy; we all really need it.
Colleen Mondor, Contributing Editor, is a writer, historian, and reviewer who co-owns an aircraft leasing company with her husband. She is the author of “The Map of My Dead Pilots: The Dangerous Game of Flying in Alaska” and reviews regularly for the ALA’s Booklist. Currently at work on a book about the 1932 Mt. McKinley Cosmic Ray Expedition, she and her family reside in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. More info can be found on her website: www.colleenmondor.com.
This review and more like it in the October 2022 issue of Locus.
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