Book Review: ‘The Lost Night’ By Andrew Bartz

Review by Adrina Palmer

What really happened the night Edie died? Ten years later, her best friend Lindsay will learn how unprepared she is for the truth.

Andrea Bartz, a seasoned writer and journalist, captivates with her eloquent words in her new book ‘The Lost Night.’ I want to love this book especially because Ms. Bartz has a rather extensive vocabulary, and I needed to use my dictionary app on several occasions. Any book that makes me learn new words is an instant new friend as I love words. What I didn’t love was the main character, Lindsay. She takes obsessive and annoying to new heights. Mind you, if she wasn’t obsessive we would have much of a book to read as she becomes fanatical about a night she lost a decade ago.

How does a person lose a whole night? Easy. Time, alcohol, possible drugs. You get the point. Lindsay it seems, handles her alcohol even worse than others and forgets large blocks of time and becomes aggressive as her blood alcohol content increases. This is why ten years after her best friend Edie kills herself, Lindsay cannot move past the tragic event because too many moments disappeared that terrible night. One of the other friends from her glory days in her early twenties, Sarah, was the catalyst for Lindsay obsessing over the details. Edie dealing with a medical issue, a breakup with a boyfriend, a scorned lover or two, issues with her parents, and with school, were sufficient reason to conclude the gun-shot wound to the head was self-imposed.

Sarah, along with two past guy roommates, Alex and Kevin, moved on with their lives. They toyed with the idea that Edie wouldn’t kill herself but followed the frayed evidence in the aftermath instead of in the now like Lindsay. Annoying trait number one. Add in lying by omission as annoying trait number two. As Lindsay sought out the friends she dropped like a bad piece of fruit all those years ago, she tried to force them to give her details as no one else passed out that night. She never gave all the information to any of them and they noticed. They remembered why Lindsay leaving their life wasn’t such a bad thing.

Ten years ago, Lindsay was the only friend in the group who didn’t live in the group industrial loft. Edie lived there first with other friends she lost along the way until Sarah, Kevin, and Alex found themselves camped out in the dirty loft post-college. Always mercurial, Edie lost friends like most people lose hair in the shower. People drained out of her life as they realized Edie wasn’t capable of depth or loyalty. For these reasons, at the time of her death, most of her friends were on the brink of breaking off their tattered relationships with Edie. Lindsay, as most annoying people do, idolized Edie and stuck her on a pedestal far too high. When Edie fell, Lindsay planned to drop her idol and just start the next chapter of her life with all the loose ends still intact. Then Edie killed herself before anyone could confront her with their grievances.

Fast forward back to now and find Lindsay forcing her only two friends to run down the rabbit hole investigation with her in the lead. Tessa and Damian were the only people even remotely close to Lindsay besides an occasional overnight visit from a noncommittal guy named Mike. Her life sucked. Instead of becoming a famous writer, Lindsay fact-checked for a local magazine despite moving to the glamorous City of New York to rock the foundation. She had no social life, and not even a cat to curl up on the couch with. Trust me, this woman epitomized the crazy cat lady qualifications. She should have had a cat. Maybe she knew like everyone else, including her parents, an animal would soon figure out what a tiresome person not likely to marry or matter to anyone.

For days or maybe weeks on end, Lindsay played the same broken record. Edie, Edie, Edie. She found her old camcorder in her hunt for the truth, was Edie murdered or did she really commit suicide? Annoying trait number three, she was the one from the group video documenting everything. Which led to the discovery that Lindsay was in the apartment when Edie died and might have been the killer. Now the search became even more personal. As the climax approached and evidence came to light, the truth of Edie’s death a shock to Lindsay and almost the cause of her own death.

Usually, a novel character has enough flaws to be human but no so many you actually hope she dies or at the very least goes to jail. If I met Lindsay in real life, I might find a little charm in her bumbling awkward ways long enough to hang out a second time before dropping her possibly avoiding the place where we met. Tessa and Damien were far more enjoyable and held up the book although they need better taste in friends. Narcissistic Lindsay barely thought to ask about their days and like me was shocked they wanted her in their lives.

I wish the author had found a few quirks to engage the audience with her protagonist. Otherwise, the writing was fabulous. Andrea Bartz paints so many visuals and creates an unparalleled intensity in her character which is commendable. I wish the ending hadn’t been quite as predictable. Maybe I read too many books and picked out the cues sooner than others would have but the ending was underwhelming. One twist though garnered some praise as the situation was amusing and worthy. If only the rest of the book had followed suit. I would read another novel by this author but hope she learns to find a balance between flaws and likable qualities in her next lead character.

Available in bookstores February 26th

James McDonald
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