Source: supplied by publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, large print, ebook, audiobook
Genres: paranormal, romantic suspense
Series: Lost Night Files #2
Published by Berkley on January 9, 2024
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Publisher's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Bookshop.org, Better World Books
The disappearance of a mysterious informant leads two people desperate for answers to an island of deadly deception in this new novel in the Lost Night Files trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Jayne Ann Krentz. Talia March, Pallas Llewellyn, and Amelia Rivers, bonded by a night they all have no memory of, are dedicated to uncovering the mystery of what really happened to them months ago—an experience that brought out innate psychic abilities in each of them. The women suspect they were test subjects years earlier, and that there are more people like them—all they have to do is find the list. When Talia follows up on a lead from Phoebe, a fan of the trio’s podcast, she discovers that the informant has vanished. Talia isn’t the only one looking for Phoebe, however. Luke Rand, a hunted and haunted man who is chasing the same list that Talia is after, also shows up at the meeting place. It’s clear he has his own agenda, and they are instantly suspicious of each other. But when a killer begins to stalk them, they realize they have to join forces to find Phoebe and the list. The rocky investigation leads Talia and Luke to a rustic, remote retreat on Night Island in the Pacific Northwest. The retreat promises to rejuvenate guests with the Unplugged Experience. Upon their arrival, Talia and Luke discover guests are quite literally cut off from the outside world because none of their high-tech devices work on the island. It soon becomes clear that Phoebe is not the first person to disappear into the strange gardens that surround the Unplugged Experience retreat. And then the first mysterious death occurs…
All of The Lost Night Files begin before the first book in this ongoing series opens to its very first page in Sleep No More. In fact, it’s starting to look like The Lost Night Files begins at the same time and with the same perpetrators – yes, let’s go with perpetrators – as the Fogg Lake series that began with The Vanishing.
All of which began with a top secret government project codenamed Bluestone. A project that absolutely went where the X-Files did but left considerably more damage – both direct and collateral – in its wake. A project that the government CLEARLY didn’t bother to clean up after. They just mothballed the whole thing in various situs and hoped that no one would dig into their dirty little paranormal secrets.
Like things EVER work that way.
In this second book, or rather this second case for the Lost Night Files podcast, the founders of the podcast; Pallas Llewellyn, whose story was featured in Sleep No More, Amelia Rivers, who will probably be the central character of a third book that had better be happening, and Talia March, the protagonist of THIS story, have a lead on why and how they were targeted for the experiment that ramped up their various strong intuitions into full-blown psychic talents.
They all took a test that measured psychic ability back in college, and they all scored high on that test. That test WAS the only link between them before their ‘lost night’ at the dilapidated Lucent Springs Hotel.
Now Talia is running down a lead on someone who is selling copies of the results of that old, supposedly long-forgotten test. Talia has high hopes that the list will lead to others who lost a night just as they did, giving them a trail they can hopefully follow back to the source of this mess.
What Talia finds first is another ‘victim’ of the experiments. Prickly and justifiably paranoid Luke Rand also took that test, also lost a night in eerily similar conditions to the Lost Night Files crew, and also woke up with newly enhanced paranormal talents and no memory of what was done to him.
Although Luke has one memory that Talia and her friends are fortunate not to have. The first thing he remembers after his lost night is standing over two dead bodies with a scalpel in his hands. He thinks he did it.
Talia’s not so sure about that. What she is sure about, because her talent is finding things, is that the person who was supposed to be selling them that list isn’t at the rendezvous – and neither is the list. What Talia does find is a talisman that links her to the would-be seller, and clues to where the woman was taken.
For experimentation, just as they were.
Reluctant and temporary allies, Luke and Talia band together to follow the trail of the seller, the list itself, and whatever operation is experimenting on would-be psychics. What they find is a huge con, a nightmare garden, and a series of murders that make Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None look like a walk in the park on a beautiful sunny day.
What Talia and Luke also find, in spite of themselves and their mutual antipathy and distrust – is a partnership that will save them, both from the monsters that haunt the Night Island, and from the demons conjured up by the experiment within them both.
Escape Rating A-: The thing about the ‘Jayneverse’ is that everything connects up – EVENTUALLY. Howsomever, that doesn’t stop a reader from jumping in pretty much anywhere and getting sucked right in. The Lost Night Files is an excellent case in point.
It might be better to start The Lost Night Files with ITS OWN first book, Sleep No More, but this series doesn’t depend on any knowledge of the greater whole, or even the smaller whole of Fogg Lake, to be easy to get into and a whole lot of fun to read.
It’s more that if you ARE familiar with some of the background there are bits that you read with a bit of a smile at the old memories – even as you make new ones.
The Night Island is clearly a middle book in its own series. In Sleep No More, we first met the crew of the podcast and were with them as they continued their investigation into WTF happened to them at the old Lucent Springs Hotel. AND discovered that they weren’t the only ones to have been experimented on, resulting in Pallas’ finding her HEA with fellow experiment subject Ambrose Drake.
In and on the Night Island, the investigation gets a few steps closer to the truth – or at least A TRUTH – about the nature of the experiments and their purpose. The reader gets a glimpse of the perpetrators, while Talia and Luke get merely a hint in that direction. Which moves the series as a whole along quite teasingly, but doesn’t detract or distract from the events of this book.
Events that are centered around Talia and Luke’s investigation of the Night Island itself, the way the bodies keep dropping like flies and the bizarre nature of the experimental flora on Night Island and how they seem to be evolving their way to fauna at a dizzying rate.
So there are oodles of puzzles to solve in this compelling story of paranormal romantic suspense and plenty of tasty red herrings to swallow on the way to solving them – as well as the descriptions of the chef’s yummy-sounding vegetarian cuisine. Talia and Luke turn out to be the perfect investigators for this case of con artists, psychic assassins and lost things, plans and people.
I can’t wait to see how The Lost Night Files wraps up all the mysteries that face them, hopefully in the next book in this series. And hopefully this time next year if not a bit sooner!