The Night Island, by Jayne Ann Krentz (review & excerpt)

January 8, 2024 Book Reviews 6 ★★★★

The Night Island, by Jayne Ann Krentz (review & excerpt)The Night Island by Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: Lost Night Files #2
Published by Berkley on 1/09/2024
Genres: Paranormal romantic suspense
Pages: 336
Format: Kindle or ebook
Source: the publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Bookshop | Barnes & Noble | Audible | Chirp
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Also in this series: Sleep No More
Also by this author: Copper Beach, Dream Eyes, River Road, Secret Sisters, Eye of the Beholder, Lost and Found, Sharp Edges, When All the Girls Have Gone, Smoke in Mirrors, Falling Awake, Hidden Talents, All Night Long, Untouchable, The Vanishing, Sleep No More, Flash, The Golden Chance

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…

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

This book contains mature content and may not be suitable for younger readers.

Scroll down past the review to read an excerpt from The Night Island.

Fast-paced, high-octane paranormal romantic suspense

(Note: This review contains spoilers for book #1 in the series, Sleep No More.)

I’ve been a fan of Jayne Ann Krentz’s fast-paced, high-octane romantic suspense thrillers for years now, so I always look forward to the next one. The Night Island did not disappoint. In fact, the pacing is smoother than in the previous book in this series (Sleep No More), and the plot is easier to follow.

In Sleep No More, we learned that months earlier, three women (Pallas, Talia, and Amelia) had woken together, strapped to gurneys in a burning building, with no memories of the previous night… and with enhanced psychic abilities. Determined to find out what happened to them, they joined together to start The Lost Night Files podcast. Sleep No More recounts Pallas’s investigation of someone else’s missing night; she and the subject, Ambrose, eventually figure out that they both took the same psych evaluation test years before, and suspect that whoever experimented on the four of them may be working from a list based on that test.

After a prologue to introduce the hero, The Night Island begins with Talia March headed to a meeting with an unknown informant with information about the list. But when she shows up at the rendezvous, the informant is missing, and another interested party, hero Luke Rand, is also there. The pair warily exchange information, discovering that they are both looking for the same list, and for the same reasons: Luke, too, experienced a lost night and a significant boost to his psychic powers. Talia knows he’s not telling her everything, but based on a clue found in the missing informant’s house, they agree to join forces to investigate the Night Island and search for the informant using Talia’s enhanced talent for finding things. Outwardly the home of a tech-free meditation retreat, the Night Island has a decidedly creepy vibe, with unusual vegetation, a mysterious conservatory, and a very weird gardener. When people on the island start turning up dead, it will take all of Luke’s and Talia’s skills to keep themselves alive and solve the puzzles of the Night Island.

If you’re thinking this sounds somewhat familiar, you’re not wrong. There were hints in Sleep No More that the Lost Night Files trilogy might eventually tie into the Fogg Lake trilogy, with its mysterious Foundation and secret, lost government labs where experiments in psychic abilities and weapons took place. Those hints grow stronger in The Night Island, which has me excited for the third book (presumably featuring the third member of the podcast team, Amelia, and probably releasing in January 2025.) And since there were hints in the Fogg Lake books that the Foundation may exist in the same “universe” as the Arcane Society novels, though independent and unaware of the Arcane Society… well, this Krentz fan is definitely hooked.

One of the things I love about the Arcane Society series is how the Society offers structure and organization to the paranormal world and to the various types of “talent.” Most of the characters are aware of and operate within that known structure; it helps ground them. Their own talents may be off the charts, but most of them exist within a community that recognizes and acknowledges the existence of the paranormal. In a more nebulous way, the Foundation serves a similar purpose in the Fogg Lake books.

That’s not true for the Lost Night Files characters, who went from having slightly-better-than-normal intuition or abilities to having a strong psychic talent. Not only are they dealing with the impacts of, and learning the extent of, their enhanced abilities, there’s all the disorientation of not knowing what happened to them and who was responsible. And they have to cope with all this without the benefit of any support other than each other, in a world which doesn’t believe at all in paranormal abilities. It makes all the Lost Night Files characters less confident, less trusting, and less open about their abilities than most of the Arcane Society characters… but equally determined to survive and thrive. Talia and Luke are no exception.

In fact, Talia and Luke are typical of Krentz’s main characters—smart, capable, and emotionally strong—though both are on the edgier, less communicative side of the Krentz hero/heroine spectrum for the reasons I mentioned above. I’m still not entirely sure why Talia is so drawn to the deeply taciturn Luke. Then again, she’s not exactly open about her own thoughts and feelings, and clearly recognizes and (to some extent) accepts Luke’s reticence. As a long-time fan, I have accepted that sometimes, I just have to accept the attraction between Krentz’s hero and heroine as a given, and that’s what I did in this case. Krentz does a good job of showing how their relationship develops from wariness to reluctant-and-limited partnership to deep-seated trust as they learn more about one another. The progression feels slow, but since the book takes place over the course of four days, it’s actually quite fast.

It’s hard to say any more about the plot of The Night Island without revealing spoilers, so I won’t. I’ll just say that for me, it hangs together better than the plot of Sleep No More —which I nonetheless enjoyed—and that I liked The Night Island as much or more on a second reading (to refresh my memory for this review) than I did the first time through. If you are already a Krentz fan, I think you’ll have fun with this book. If you are new to her work, or to her paranormal-themed romantic suspense, I recommend starting with either Second Sight (the first Arcane Society novel, written under her Amanda Quick pen name), or The Vanishing (the first Fogg Lake book.)

Challenges: COYER Unwind (2024) – Chapter 1; NetGalley & Edelweiss Challenge 2024

Excerpt from The Night Island

There would be nightmares again tonight.

She’d always had a knack for finding misplaced keys, glasses, and pets. She was fine with that. But her new psychic ability for tracking down the bodies of those who had died by violence was not only depressing but frequently led to anxiety attacks and disturbing dreams.

Why couldn’t it have been a talent for something more positive—like, say, picking winning lottery numbers? Why did it have to be dead bodies?

Talia March clenched the dead man’s gold cuff link in one hand, gathered her nerve, and flattened her other hand against the metal side of the industrial-sized trash bin. She was braced mentally and physically, her core Pilates-tight; nevertheless, the jolt of psychic lightning rattled her nerves and her senses. In the past few months she had learned that the energy laid down by violence always came as a shock.

She had finally figured out that what she detected with her new ability was the psychic stain of the killer’s emotions—or lack thereof—and the pain and fear of the victim. It made for a toxic brew that seeped into the crime scene and, to her, was as obvious as a pool of blood.

She was aware of a weak frisson emanating from the cuff link. The owner was dead but the item that he had worn frequently in life was still infused with the hollow echo of his vibe.

She could work with almost any object that had belonged to the missing or the deceased, but over the course of the past several months she had learned that some materials absorbed and reflected paranormal energy more efficiently than others. Gold was a particularly strong conductor, almost as good as crystal.

“Shit,” she whispered. She took a quick step back. “He’s in there.”

Roger Gossard, the head of Gossard Consulting, a crime scene consulting company, studied the trash bin with a pained expression. “Are you sure?”

“You hired me for my best guess,” she said. “This is it.”

Roger grunted but he did not argue or demand more details. He knew better than to ask her to explain her conclusion. He looked at the unhappy man wearing a security guard uniform emblazoned with the logo of the company that controlled the loading dock.

“Okay if we take a look?” Roger said. “We need to find out for sure if there’s a body inside before we call the police.”

The security guard shrugged. “Boss says I’m supposed to cooperate but I’m telling you right now I’m not going into that bin to look for a dead body. You’re on your own.”

“Right.” Roger switched his attention to the two members of his team who were waiting for instructions. “Bailey and Thomas, take a look. We need to make sure.”

Grim but resigned, the pair pulled on heavy gloves, climbed into the bin, and went to work sorting through the trash generated by the several hundred office workers employed in the building.

Talia retreated to the front of the loading dock and contemplated the view of the alley. The rain was coming down in the steady way that was typical of Seattle in the late fall. The heavy skies indicated the weather was not going to change anytime soon. The Big Gray was just getting started.

In the past she had been comfortable with the drama of the city’s dark season. But the night she had lost to amnesia had changed a lot of things. Now she was aware of a relentless sense of urgency simmering just beneath the surface, a sensation that was intensified by the late dawns and early twilights.

She tuned out the noise of the trash bin excavation process and opened her phone. There was no new text from her mysterious informant. She was starting to lose hope. Maybe she had been conned. It was a discouraging thought because the lead had appeared so promising.

“Looks like we found Clayton, boss,” Bailey called. “Wrapped in plastic sheeting. Not a pretty sight.”

Excerpted from The Night Island by Jayne Ann Krentz Copyright © 2024 by Jayne Ann Krentz. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

About Jayne Ann Krentz

author photo of Jayne Ann Krentz (2018 photo by Marc von Borstel)

The author of over 40 consecutive New York Times bestsellers, JAYNE ANN KRENTZ writes romantic-suspense, often with a psychic and paranormal twist, in three different worlds: Contemporary (as Jayne Ann Krentz), historical (as Amanda Quick) and futuristic (as Jayne Castle). There are over 30 million copies of her books in print.

She earned a B.A. in History from the University of California at Santa Cruz and went on to obtain a Masters degree in Library Science from San Jose State University in California. Before she began writing full time she worked as a librarian in both academic and corporate libraries.

Ms. Krentz is married and lives with her husband, Frank, in Seattle, Washington.

Pseudonyms: Jayne Ann Krentz, Amanda Quick, Stephanie James, Jayne Bentley, Jayne Taylor, Amanda Glass.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • COYER Unwind (2024) - Chapter 1
  • NetGalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2024

6 Responses to “The Night Island, by Jayne Ann Krentz (review & excerpt)”

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      Some of her books appeal to me less than others, but they are usually fun, and such quick reads that even when it’s only, say, a 3-star read, I still enjoy them.