Stephen Leather’s Nightfall introduces Jack Nightingale, a former British police officer who is dismissed from the force after implication in the mysterious falling death of a suicide victim’s father. Jack struggles in his new career as private investigator, often taking cases investigating cheating spouses, until he finds out that the people thought were his parents aren’t, and that he has inherited a mansion from his biological father. As he investigates this new turn of events he learns that his soul has been sold to the devil and will be collected on his 33rd birthday, which is just three weeks away.
Nightfall is most definitely not my usual fare. Soul sold to the devil? Uh, uh. The trouble with having eclectic tastes as a reader, is that curiosity often pulls me in. While there are elements of the occult woven into the story (Satanist fathers, pentangles, spell books and a high body count), for the most part it reads as a mystery/crime novel. Having no idea that he was adopted Jack, understandably, wants to solve the mystery of his origins and why his parents never mentioned that he was not their biological son. His soul being sold is hardly creditable, but as friends and relatives die around him at an alarming rate, the claim begins to warrant some consideration or an alternate explanation.
Leather has brisk pacing, and each chapter is only as long as it needs to be. Jack Nightingale is not atypical of many other troubled and devil-may-care PIs in the genre, but he is not without charm, and an easy character to follow in his crime-solving ventures. Nightfall is the first in a series of books featuring Jack Nightingale, so though some key questions are answered, others remain to unfold in other books in the series. Nightfall is a quick and enjoyable read for those who like their mystery with a side of the supernatural.