The Hogmanay murders inflame the ghosts of a smoldering past

After studying English at Oxford and taking a legal conversion course, Harriet Tyce worked as a solicitor for 10 years, before completing a Masters in Crime Fiction at the University of East Anglia.

She burst onto the publishing scene in 2019 with her debut thriller, Blood Orange, a Sunday Times bestseller and a Richard and Judy Book Club pick.

In this, his third novel starring successful lawyers with complicated personal lives, Tyce exploits his Edinburgh adolescence to good effect: the desperate need to fit in at all costs; casual malice and simmering jealousies; dire consequences resulting from lies told and secrets kept for decades.

It ends at midnight' by Harriet Tyce
It ends at midnight’ by Harriet Tyce

Hogmanay in Edinburgh’s New Town, an exclusive party, fireworks lighting up the sky, two dead bodies impaled on an iron railing in front of an immaculate Georgian house, a hungry fox licking up blood dripping on the pavement: with these scant details Tyce stages the scene of an intriguing mystery.

Who are these people and why did they die? Don’t expect a traditional homicide investigation. Instead, Tyce rolls back the clock to the beginning of the same year, introducing us to the book’s protagonist.

Sylvie is both a trainee solicitor and part-time District Court judge (which would not be the case in this jurisdiction where all judges are full-time) with her sights set on a promotion to the Crown Court and beyond.

From the start, Tyce builds up the tension. The reader senses before Sylvie that his plans will go wrong.

She’s in a relationship with a younger man, Gareth, a chef, seemingly perfect, yet she still hasn’t told her older (or frantic?) friend Tess about him.

When Sylvie finally decides she has to, Tess has her own news to share. She is seriously ill.

Cleverly structured, Sylvie’s story takes place in a double timeline, the recent past and her school days in 1989/90.

But Tyce also continues to take us back to that fateful New Year’s Eve in Edinburgh, deftly weaving together the discovery, photography and processing of the dead, while also keeping our attention on what may have led to their grisly end.

Harriet Tyce author of It Ends At Midnight
Harriet Tyce author of It Ends At Midnight

It’s in the procedurally rich courtroom scenes that readers will benefit the most from Tyce’s legal background.

It is also present in the writing: clean, efficient prose, letting the facts speak for themselves, allowing readers the freedom to come to their own conclusions, even if those conclusions are incorrect. Tyce repeatedly displaces the reader, as he should be.

The book is filled with a sense of “growing dread”, “a harbinger of imminent doom”. Sylvie knows it, and so do we. When disaster strikes, only the immediate form it takes is a surprise. And there’s more to come.

The past has Sylvie firmly “in her grip”.

She’s been “negative for years, desperate to forget what happened that night, but now he’s come roaring back to life like a smoking log finally given the oxygen it needs to burn.”

In the It Ends at Midnight acknowledgments, Tyce references Everyone’s Invited, an Internet campaign initiated by Soma Shara that encourages victims, especially in schools, to share anonymous testimonies of their experiences of rape, sexual coercion, sharing nude photographs and other .

Tyce says, “This horror has made its way into my writing.”

The resulting novel is dark but intensely readable; and it’s the perfect choice for anyone who needs a decent excuse to skip a New Year’s Eve party.

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