Alan Lastufka

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Booklife reviews Face the Night!

DECEMBER 7, 2021
Face the Night: A Novel

Publisher Weekly’s Booklife reviewed Face the Night today! And it was very positive.

“Suspenseful… engaging small-town thriller.
Great for fans of My Heart Is a Chainsaw.”

In addition to the full written review, Booklife also grades various elements, such as cover design, typography, editing, and marketing materials. I’m happy to report Face the Night scored straight A’s across the board.

You can read the full review below:

Full Review:

Lastufka’s debut introduces Adriana, a talented artist and young, single mom who finds herself in a custody battle with her father for her son, Dylan. When Adriana wins temporary custody that’s dependent on gainful employment, she manages to convince the police chief of Cellar, Ohio, to bring her on board with the department as a sketch artist and administrative assistant. Unfortunately for Adriana, her new job and the fight for her child resurfaces a recurring nightmare from her past. As she connects with her neighbors—and the newest police officer on the force—she increasingly begins to wonder if her nightmare is a reminder of a heinous crime long buried and forgotten.

Adriana is a classic heroine, fighting for a better life for herself and her son, while her ex is a stereotypical deadbeat dad and drug user; Lastufka’s characters are consistent, but some tend toward the one dimensional. Her father, Bradley, adeptly plays the role of a corrupt, scheming mayor, and Matt Hinkley is the eager, straight-as-an-arrow cop who’s ready to swoop in and save the day for Adriana, even if it means bending the rules.

Still, the plot, in which danger from the past and the present threatens Adriana and her son as she’s trying to rebuild, will stir anticipation in readers of thrillers, although one of the story’s biggest surprises is how much information gets revealed early rather than teased out. The shocking incidents that transpire in and around the community of Cellar during a contentious mayoral race—one that Adriana’s father is determined not to lose, at any cost— reach a fever pitch with a terrible act of violence. Meanwhile, the increasing intensity of Adriana’s nightmares leaves her determined to uncover the memories she believes she’s repressed, putting her and her new friends in danger from those who would prefer the past stay buried. The cast might be familiar, but Lastufka’s storytelling keeps Face the Night suspenseful.

Takeaway: A single mother faces danger from the past and present in this engaging small-town thriller.

Great for fans of: Alex North, Stephen Graham Jones’s My Heart Is a Chainsaw.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A