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VINE VOICEon February 11, 2013
In Nightfall (Nightingale: Book One), private detective Jack Nightingale had to save his own soul from the devil. In Midnight, Jack's mission was to save the soul of the half-sister he never knew he had. After those two adventures, Jack may have earned a rest, but he isn't getting any.

Now, an abused 9-year-old girl is begging for his help. The girl, Sophie Underwood, just happens to be dead, and she only speaks to him though random people he meets: the owner of his favorite Chinese restaurant, a brain-dead drug dealer, passersby on the sidewalk, and lots of others. And Sophie isn't just any dead 9-year-old child; it was Jack's failure to prevent her suicide and the subsequent death of her father while in Jack's care that led to the end of Jack's career as a police negotiator.

"Nightmare" is much like the earlier books in the series. Bad things happen to Jack and he flounders around trying to figure out who's out to get him and why. He smokes too much, drinks too much, complains too much, manipulates old colleagues into risking their jobs for his sake, and takes his long-suffering assistant Jenny completely for granted. He also tangles with devils, demons, big bad Satanists, nice amateur Satanists, evil books, construction contractors, and disembodied spirits. As in the earlier books, readers are left uncertain whether Jack is a lovable screw-up with just the right mix of recklessness, bravado, and heart or a self-absorbed jerk, oblivious to how badly his reckless behavior is hurting the people around him. When Jack and Jenny exchange witty repartee over Jack's horribly unreliable MGB, he seems like a sweet slacker trying to make the best of a bad situation; when he repeatedly encourages his diabetic buddy to drink and smoke, he's the "devil" the buddy accuses him of being.

Where "Nightmare" departs from precedent is in the body count and in the sense of impending doom. In the first two books, and especially in "Nightfall," half the people Jack tried to get information from killed themselves before they could tell him anything. Thankfully, that's not the case in "Nightmare"; the fatality rate is still high, but Jack is no longer a harbinger of death. On the other hand, Jack's mission to save Sophie is less viscerally urgent than his need to save himself in the first book and his sister in the second. Jack's indecisive foot dragging over Sophie -- it takes him forever to get in contact with someone who might be able to help -- and a number of subplots, including a murder investigation that is only tangentially related to Jack's problems, do little to help maintain the tension.

By the book's final chapters, however, events begin accelerating towards what seems certain to be a colossal, catastrophic train wreck. Without giving any details away, I'd say that Leather wraps up the series (sort of -- see below) with a bang that is every bit as big and bad as we're led to expect ... And yet, it is nowhere near as extreme -- or as conclusive -- as it first seems. It's tough not to feel both satisfied and cheated at the same time.

Bottom line: The third volume in the Nightingale series is less bloody and less focused than the first two books, but it is cut from the same cloth, with all of the good and bad things that implies. Fans of this slightly unhinged horror series should not hesitate to pick up a copy.

P.S. Stephen Leather recently announced online that although he originally intended to write only three books in this series, he has accepted a contract to write two more and is open to keeping the series going beyond that.
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on January 4, 2013
This was my first venture into Stephen Leather's world. I began the trilogy by checking out Nightfall (Book #1) from the Kindle Lending Library, just to see what it was like. Free so couldn't very well go wrong except that I HATE to read bad books, I don't care how FREE they are. I was so impressed with Jack Nightingale, I then bought Midnight and Nightmare. I rarely give a 5 star rating to a book, not unless it knocks me over and this series did. And it isn't even my genre! I'm still sitting here with my mouth hanging open at the final twist. I'll be checking into other books by Mr. Leather in the very near future.
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VINE VOICEon April 26, 2013
"Nightmare (Nightingale: Book Three)" is the conclusion to an interesting and fairly unusual combination of police/private investigator noir procedural and occult horror fantasy. At the start of the first novel, Jack Nightingale was a crisis negotiator with the London PD. He is called in on a case involving a 9 year old girl, Sophie, who is perched on the top of a balcony wall on the 13th floor of a high rise, obviously intent on jumping. Jack fails, Sophie falls to her death, and after discovering that she had been chronically abused by her wealthy father, Jack immediately confronts him in his office. A few minutes later, the father has fallen or been pushed through his office window to his death on the street below. No witnesses, no official charges, but Jack's career as a cop is over for good, and he becomes a PI.

All that happens within the first few pages of Book 1 (Nightfall), followed by a number of people saying "You are going to hell, Jack Nightingale", as thing start to turn from bad to worse for Jack who finds out that his biological father sold Jack's soul to a devil before he was even born, with the due date on his 33rd birthday, only weeks away.

A lot of water flows under the bridge in the first two novels, with a huge body count, and Jack being constantly arrested by his former boss Chalmers, who is convinced that Jack is a murderer. This last in the trilogy does a fantastic job of pulling everything together in a fast-paced read with an interesting and satisfying conclusion that ups the fantasy ante significantly to involve larger issues of good versus evil and the nature of reality. Fans of the series are going to love this one. But DO NOT start here. This is not a stand-alone and is really best read as the conclusion to the trilogy. The lack of plot specifics in this review is intentional - I don't want to give away too much and what I have revealed is all contained within the first few pages of the first book.

The author, Stephen Leather, is quite well known for another series, the Dan Shepard mysteries, as well as a number of other one-offs. He writes tight, simple prose, and has a great feel for pacing. Jack Nightingale is a great protagonist. He seemed a bit too struggling gumshoe, chain-smoking stereotypical for me in the first novel, but he grew on me over time, quite a bit. He's drily funny, has no respect for authority, and treats his friends and employees well. He is also very human and shows true courage by being afraid but not letting his fear stop him. He's also a hell of a lot cleverer than he lets on.

Although Leather said that he originally intended to write Jack Nightingale as a closed trilogy, the popularity of the first three books was great enough to get his publisher to ask for more, and Mr. Leather agreed to two more, the first of which ("Nightshade") has just been published, and I'll be starting it tonight.

Highly Recommended.

J.M. Tepper
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on March 27, 2015
Stephen Leather continues to ratchet up the tension between Jack Nightengale, the police and evil people in this third novel. The demons are out to get him and use every means available to ruin him and put him in Hell. Stephan Leather manages humor, great dialogue, anger, sorrow, frustration, and even mild romance to push the story forward to an ending worthy of the old Twilight Zone television series. What a story and what a writer.
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I guessed the ending after reading the first two books, but was still pleased to get the finale and see it through. There were resolutions that could have been really stunning, so in a way this was a bit of a letdown, but overall I found the series wrap-up to be a very good read. The possibilities I thought of would have made the story arc much heavier and perhaps too philosophical. In the first book, Jack Nightingale witnesses the suicide of a young girl. He gets caught up in a series of supernatural events as his life apparently spins out of control. In the second book, these events continue, but just as he thinks he can get back to real life, that little girl returns to haunt him - literally. His final adventure is to see if there is some way to save her, even from beyond the grave. I don't have strong feelings for the protagonist; in the first book, he appeared to be a slacker with a blunted affect. In the second book, he began to develop in a more appealing way, but still wasn't anyone I really cared about. I can't say that he gets better in the third book, but it's a very interesting story and does have a fair amount of suspense. Towards the end, the pace and plot get rather dizzying, but overall I thought it was a fitting conclusion to the series. There is a slight sense of open-endedness, but I'd rather not see the series continue, because the characters didn't hold me. The story arc did, and that is over.
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on November 23, 2012
Have followed the series up to this installment, and thought it was outstanding. I don't usually read thriller mysteries with a sci-fi twist but really like the first two books and couldn't wait to see where this installment went. The story was gaining speed all along but the end had my heart racing so fast, I had to put the book down and take a break. When I finished it a few minutes later, I felt really good about the ending with all the twists and turns it contained. Stephen wrote the perfect ending and for that I was very pleased. I really liked this series and really like this author. I look forward to more books by Stephen Leather. A 5 star recommendation!
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on April 28, 2017
Excellent book, however a lot of people might not like the subject of witches and etc.
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on September 4, 2013
If u read the 1st 2 books, just when u thought the main character's life couldn't get any more troubled, it does. Nightengale continues to be summoned by a departed soul in his past, thru people that end up dying questionably. Superintendent Chalmers is determined to pin someone's murder on Nightengale. And, to make matters worse dark forces are also working against him. The ending is a bit far-fetched and I have a problem with why Nightengale retains his knowledge and others don't but hey ... it's fiction.
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on June 8, 2015
The first three books of this series take place in a matter of weeks, and then this book ends with some thinly disguised views on theology and religion and a reset. I'm going to keep reading these because by they're fun, but I really wish the author wasn't so flippant with his timelines. It's very jarring to go from a very slow paced narrative to a third act that goes way faster than the other two installments combined.
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on February 27, 2013
In Leather's horror novel, tough, supernaturally inclined PI Jack Nightengale is pulled from his flat by the police who cart him off to assist with their inquires. It turns out that a coma patient has begun to speak and it's Jack's name he calls for. The police are tempted to charge Jack for attempted murder, but for Jack--the voice is calling out from the grave for help.

As the twists and turns abound, we discover more about Jack and his past, and those around him. Jack also gets involved with the underworld and tangles with danger.

All in all this is an entertaining read that leaves the reader to anticipate the next installment.
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