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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

The Night She Fell by Eileen Merriman

I’ve never read any of prolific NZ author Eileen Merriman’s fiction, so I approached The Night She Fell, a “psychological thriller”, with no preconceptions or expectations.

It’s an intriguing whodunnit: Ashleigh, a beautiful but self-obsessed law student, falls to her death from her third-floor student flat bedroom in Dunedin. How did it happen? Who’s behind it?

And perhaps most pertinently – did she deserve it?

It’s a cracking story with spot-on descriptions of university student life, wonderfully vivid characters, perfect pacing, tight narrative control (Merriman effortlessly negotiating “Before” and “After” timelines), and a clever ending. I smugly thought I had guessed the outcome about two-thirds of the way through. I was wrong.

When you know that the author is also a consultant haematologist at Auckland’s North Shore Hospital, the medical references (Asleigh’s boyfriend Xander is a med student) make more sense. But they’re never overdone. They cleverly add to the intrigue.

This is a goodie, and I’m not surprised bestselling NZ author of The Girl in the Mirror Rose Carlye has endorsed it, calling it “pacy, clever and enthralling … a deliciously evil exploration of narcissism.”

But the thing I loved most about this book was how easy it was to read. Not once did I have to stop to wonder what the author meant, or to try to untangle a grammatically awkward sentence, or to question a paragraph structure. As with all top-notch tales, the behind-the-scenes scaffolding is invisible. You see only the story, and nothing distracts you from it. I literally couldn’t put the book down, and I don’t often say that.

So: a big tick for Merriman from me. She joins the high-calibre group of established and emerging crime and thriller writers in Aotearoa.


Reviewer: Patricia Bell




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