Amy McCulloch / Book Review / Reviews with Spoilers

Amy McCulloch | Midnight

The Book: 

Midnight by Amy McCulloch
Published January 2, 2024 by Doubleday
Date read: December 29, 2023

The Characters: 

Olivia

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Buy it on Bookshop.org | Amazon

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The Plot (from Goodreads):

In this pulse-pounding thriller, a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Antarctica—to camp beneath the legendary midnight sun—becomes a desperate battle for survival against a killer determined to follow their prey to the ends of the earth.

THE SUN NEVER SETS AND THIS KILLER NEVER SLEEPS

Olivia Campbell has always dreamed of spending a sunlit night on the frigid Antarctic continent. But as an actuary who assesses risk for a living, she never imagined she would have the chance. So when her career takes an unexpected detour, and her boyfriend—a high-powered art dealer with a taste for the finer things in life—decides to stage an ostentatious, career-making auction on a luxury liner to Antarctica, Olivia is thrilled. That is, until things start to feel a bit strange. In addition to the scores of wealthy patrons and potential buyers, they’ll also be traveling alongside a small group of beleaguered employees of Pioneer Adventures—the company responsible for managing the ship—and their charismatic, divisive CEO.

When the first bodies are discovered, it’s easy enough for Olivia to write it off as a terrible accident. But as the situation heats up and the temperatures continue to plummet, she begins to wonder whether she might have booked a one-way ticket to her own demise.

How did Midnight end?

Click here for book spoilers for Midnight
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read Midnight, I suggest you turn back now.

The Fury is what the island locals called the wind.

The Reveal:

Janine was the killer. She had been the girlfriend of Kostas Yannin, the dead artist. The night of his first big showcase, Olivia was supposed to pick Yannin up and drive him to the gallery. She had a panic attack at work and never went to get him, so Yannin drove himself after taking MDMA. Olivia also decided to step into traffic to try to hurt herself as part of her panic attack, happened to step in front of Yenin who was already driving erratically, and then Yannin swerved and crashed and died. Janine was in a taxi following them. She also blamed Aaron because he gave Yannin the MDMA.

She had spiked the champagne left in Cabin 16 with a lethal dose of MDMA. When Aaron left the ship, she killed him in a hotel room. She also killed Stephan, I think because he decided to sell duplicates and water down Yenin’s legacy.

A group of cruisers went camping on an island, but a storm came through that made it impossible for them to get back to the boat. Someone deflated the Zodiacs. Olivia thought it was Sergei, the crewmember who had been following her around.

Sergei actually worked for Pierre Lavaud. Pierre owned the yacht that Olivia’s father died on, and he had been keeping tabs and acting as her anonymous benefactor ever since. Pierre knew someone was after Olivia so hired Sergei to keep an eye on her.

Janine killed Liam, one of the excursion leaders. The camping group went to find shelter for the night. Patty went a little crazy when she realized Cutler was going to close her store that her husband had put their whole life savings into. Janine was able to convince people that Sergei was the killer.

The Ending:

I can’t remember how Olivia got on Pierre’s new yacht, but somehow he came to rescue her in the storm. Janine and Olivia fought on the ship and went over the edge of the balcony together. Olivia was rescued again, but Janine wasn’t found.

The Review: 

BREATHLESS was one of my favorite books of 2023, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on MIDNIGHT!

I loved the setting: Antarctica is a location unfamiliar to me, but you can tell the author had done a similar excursion since so much detail was packed into these descriptions. I’ve only been on one cruise (and nothing like this fancy expensive trip), but easily felt like I was on the boat with these characters. Amy McCullough is a master of the adventure thriller!

While MIDNIGHT wasn’t quite as tense as BREATHLESS, I enjoyed the claustrophobic locked-room feel. Part of the reason I didn’t love the book was that I didn’t connect that well with Olivia. She held a lot back from the reader for too long, so when the reader finally finds out what happened before the cruise it felt a little disjointed. There were also a lot of side characters to keep track of, and on audio these were a bit confusing at times.

Spoiler thoughts here
I will say I guessed the killer very early on, but it was a lot of fun watching Olivia figure it out while blaming Sergei. It was like watching a horror movie where the viewer has seen the killer behind the main character’s back and is screaming for them not to go into the kitchen–you know what’s going to happen, but the anticipation is worth it.

I thought the connection between Pierre and Olivia’s father was a bit too coincidental, as well as the storm that gave Janine the perfect opportunity to pick off the rest of the group.

There was also a huge coincidence in the past that felt off to me: Olivia, in the midst of her mental health crisis, stepped into traffic at the exact time that the person she was supposed to be chauffering drove by? With the girlfriend watching from a taxi behind him? This bit was a little far-fetched, but since it wasn’t the main plot I let it slide.

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