‘That Night’ by Gillian McAllister

Author : Gillian McAllister
Title : That Night
Pages : 450
Publisher : Michael Joseph
Publication date : June 10, 2021


One hot summers night in Italy, Joe and Cathy Plant receive a phone call that will change their lives forever. Their sister Frannie has killed a man, and she needs their help.

They were always close, some might say too close, siblings who worked together, lived next door to each other. And now they’ve buried a body together…

But when they return to England, Frannie, Joe and Cathy become tangled in lies in they’ve been telling, to the police, to their friends, to each other…

But if you can’t trust your family, who can you trust? 


Near the end of last year, I wrote a post about some of my most anticipated books for the upcoming year. One of my blogger friends pointed out that I left out the new Gillian McAllister and I risked a friendship (😉) by telling her that this author wasn’t even on my radar as I had stopped reading her books. Yet, here we are, as I soon discovered this one at the back of my bookshelves and you all so very kindly voted it the winner in my weekly poll.

McAllister is one of those authors whose book descriptions always sound incredibly intriguing and I let FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out, for those who don’t know) rule my head but somehow, I always end up rather disappointed. Unfortunately, my experience with That Night wasn’t any different.

Three siblings are on holiday in Verona when the youngest sibling kills a man. Frannie is a single mum, she is used to being babied by her brother and sister and they are all extremely close. So in order to protect Frannie and to make sure her little son doesn’t grow up without a mother, the siblings decide to bury the man’s body in the forest near their Italian villa. But once they return home, the lies and the guilt quickly become too much to bear.

Sure hope you’re ready for my list of issues with this one. May want to grab yourself a cup of coffee.

First of all, the pacing. I don’t mind a slow burner, in fact I often enjoy them. But at some point, a story is going to need some oomph injected into it if it wants to hold my attention and that just never happened in That Night. Secondly, the characters. Oh, dear. Such an unlikeable bunch of siblings. I kind of feel it’s rather odd not to feel a modicum of empathy with someone who has just accidentally killed someone. As for Joe and Cathy, they just made one bad decision after the other. Some of it I could almost understand. Their decisions are heavily influenced by an event in the past and by family dynamics. But still.

Quite a lot of the back-and-forth chats between the siblings about what they did and were still going to do, and the exploration of feelings about what they did and their place in the family became rather repetitive. I felt there were too many POVs and one in particular, from Joe’s wife, seemed completely unnecessary. There are also chapters where one of the characters is having sessions with a lawyer in preparation of a trial. Who that is isn’t revealed until about halfway through the book but it’s remarkably easy to work out if you pay attention. The “why” was more of a puzzle and I couldn’t figure it out at all.

It really doesn’t take a genius to realise what really happened that night, even if the reason for it might be a bit of a mystery. Most of the story definitely involves the “what would you do?” question. Not only in that moment, but also in hindsight, and afterwards when everything starts to fall apart. How far would you go for a sibling?

Not anywhere near to what these siblings did. I can tell you that much. Which leads me to the ending. Obviously I can’t talk about that but my god, the anger that coursed through me could have fired up a power plant! I couldn’t even begin to explain how many kinds of wrong that felt to me. On the other hand, that was probably the first time I did actually feel sorry for one of the characters so there’s that.

It’s fair to say that of all the Gillian McAllister books I’ve read, this is by far the one I disliked the most. If That Night did anything, it is to prove to myself that this author and I just don’t seem to get along anymore and I should stick to my decision not to read her books anymore. And yet … how promising does the blurb of her new book sound? Dammit. 😉

That Night is available to buy!

  20 comments for “‘That Night’ by Gillian McAllister

  1. May 23, 2022 at 9:04 am

    I only started reading this authors books recently and I’ve found them a bit hit and miss. I haven’t read this one as it sounds similar to other books I’ve read. Now I’ve read your review I won’t bother with this one I was in two minds anyway 😂


  2. May 23, 2022 at 11:07 am

    Ditto. I tried in the past but really not for me. I’ve reviewed a book today by a very popular author and had a similar wtf experience!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. May 23, 2022 at 1:19 pm

    I totally agree about the siblings being very annoying and unlikeable. I can’t even remember the ending now, and it’s not my fave, but I still consider her to be a favourite author.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 24, 2022 at 8:21 am

      I know you do! We can’t all like the same things. Thankfully! (and as you know I did buy the new one so 🤦🏼‍♀️😂)


  4. May 23, 2022 at 2:27 pm

    Hey, it’s great you’ve discovered that this author just isn’t for you, no matter her popularity. I’ve been there.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. May 23, 2022 at 6:54 pm

    I still can’t quite get my head around the fact that you bought her new book after this experience 🙊😂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Jo
    May 23, 2022 at 7:57 pm

    Oh dear! I’ve not read anything by this author, but I’m VERY tempted by her latest novel… or at least I was. Now I’m not so sure… 😬

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 24, 2022 at 8:23 am

      Well, erm, if it makes your decision any easier, I actually got it myself 😳😂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jo
        May 24, 2022 at 8:03 pm

        You what now?! 😂 I might let you read it first then 😋

        Liked by 1 person

        • May 25, 2022 at 8:37 am

          I know, I know. I should really have constant adult supervision. 🤦🏼‍♀️😂

          Liked by 1 person

  7. May 24, 2022 at 2:39 am

    There are authors that just aren’t for me, but others love, so I understand. I have only read one McAllister book and it was okay, but I haven’t tried another. Very well explained and thoughtful review.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 24, 2022 at 8:24 am

      Thank you, Carla! We can’t all like the same things, luckily. And there are plenty of other authors out there!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. May 25, 2022 at 5:51 pm

    I confess that I haven’t tried her books yet; there was always something that stopped me from actually picking them up even though I might have one or two somewhere on my kindle… After reading your review, I strongly suspect her writing wouldn’t be for me either. Fab review though! xx


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