Source: Review copy
Publication: 14 April 2022 from Wildfire
My thanks to Wildfire for an early copy for review
It’s New Year’s Eve and the stage is set for a lavish party in one of Edinburgh’s best postcodes. It’s a moment for old friends to set the past to rights – and move on.
The night sky is alive with fireworks and the champagne is flowing. But the celebration fails to materialise.
Because someone at this party is going to die tonight.
Midnight approaches and the countdown begins – but it seems one of the guests doesn’t want a resolution.
They want revenge.
Harriet Tyce has knocked it out the park with her new book, It Ends at Midnight, a story of the friendship between two women held together by rivalry, lies and secrets.
Sylvie Munro is a successful barrister with a rising career. She is a part time Youth Court judge, and is hopeful of securing a huge new judicial role in the Crown Court. She’s fortunate to have a loving and attentive boyfriend in Gareth, a caterer with his own Edinburgh business, so the two have the best of both worlds. They don’t live together, but they spend quality time together whenever they can.
Tess has been Sylvie’s friend since school in Edinburgh and now both live in London and Tess is married to Marcus, a barrister in Sylvie’s Chambers.
The book opens on an Edinburgh Hogmanay with a beautifully grisly impaling as two bodies are bleeding to death side by side on cast iron railings. Who they are we do not know, but as we follow the crime scene forensic team, we understand that this is a very gory scene indeed.
What follows is a dual timeline story, looking back at Sylvie and Tess’s school days and the foundation of their friendship and allowing us to understand what lies behind the ties that bind them. In the present day, we are on the cusp of finding out just how easy it is to make a successful career come off the rails.
Sylvie hasn’t seen Tess for a while and if she’s honest with herself, it’s because she is reluctant to introduce her to Gareth. But she’s promised Gareth she’ll introduce him to her friends and she knows it’s time to tell Tess that she is seeing someone and that it is a meaningful relationship.
So when Tess asks Sylvie to meet for drinks, she agrees, not knowing the bombshell Tess is about to drop. Tess’s marriage has been in trouble for some time but now Tess wants to rope Sylvie in to getting Marcus to agree to a renewal of vows ceremony in Edinburgh, recreating her original wedding complete with the original dress and the bridesmaid’s dress that Sylvie hated then and loathes now. Tess also wants to right a past wrong and though Sylvie knows to her core that they should let these particular sleeping dogs lie, she can’t help feeling compelled to let Tess have her way.
Tess knows just how to manipulate Sylvie and now Sylvie can’t refuse her oldest friend, so she agrees. And so the scene is set for a return to Edinburgh and the exposing of the secrets that have underscored their friendship all these years.
At the same time, Sylvie has to cope with the fact that someone is intent on destroying her career and Harriet Tyce gives us no shortage of potential candidates. All this is beautifully explored in an atmosphere that reeks of toxicity and manipulation. From the outset it is not clear who is manipulating whom and who you can rely on, if anyone, to give you an accurate view of the facts.
I love a crime book where you spend lots of time second guessing the characters and their motives and for readers of lots of crime half the fun comes from recognising some of the set ups. All of this, adds to the enjoyment of a book that is beautifully compelling and absolutely choc full of malice and poison.
Harriet Tyce’s legal background adds lots of fascinating colour and detail to Sylvie’s life and I really enjoyed the courtroom scenes.
Verdict: Really well paced, fantastic plotting and oozing toxicity, It Ends at Midnight is a terrific psychological thriller that I really enjoyed. I was sure I knew where it was going, but in the end I was completely wrong footed. What fun! A real page–turner from Harriet Tyce.
Harriet Tyce grew up in Edinburgh and studied English at Oxford University before doing a law conversion course at City University. She practised as a criminal barrister in London for nearly a decade, and subsequently completed an MA in Creative Writing – Crime Fiction at the University of East Anglia. She lives in north London. Her first novel, Blood Orange, published in 2019 to huge critical acclaim and her second novel, The Lies You Told, published in summer 2020. It Ends at Midnight is her third novel.