ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – The Night in Question by Susan Fletcher

The Night in Question by Susan Fletcher will be published by Bantam Press on 18th April in hardcover, eBook and audiobook. My thanks to the publishers for the gorgeous proof package.

Florence Butterfield has lived an extraordinary life full of travel, passion and adventure. But, at eighty-seven, she suspects there are no more surprises to come her way.

Then, one midsummer’s night, something terrible happens – so strange and unexpected that Florrie is suspicious. Was this really an accident, or is she living alongside a would-be murderer?

The only clue is a magenta envelope, discarded earlier that day.

And Florrie – cheerfully independent but often overlooked – is the only person determined to uncover the truth.

As she does, Florrie finds herself looking back on her own life . . . and a long-buried secret, traced in faded scars across her knuckles, becomes ever harder to ignore.

Readers of Elizabeth is Missing, Small Pleasures or Dear Mrs Bird will love prize-winning author Susan Fletcher’s The Night in Question – an absorbing and uplifting novel with a uniquely loveable protagonist at its heart.

The Night in Question is Florrie Butterfield’s story. Now 87, wheelchair bound and living in a (really quite nice) care home, she has settled down to a quiet life. That is, until something awful happens and she feels that it’s not quite what everyone is thinking. Following clues (including a magenta envelope that has been cast aside), she starts to poke around to see if she can find out what really happened. Alongside this thread, we are also able to delight in looking back on Florrie’s long life, the good times and the bad, her family, her best friend, her loves.

Quite how Susan Fletcher crams all of this so perfectly into 448 pages I do not know, but I can say quite categorically that The Night in Question will be one of my books of the year. Not only does it have the mystery at the care home, but a character looking back over a long and eventful life is one of my most favourite tropes ever. I adored Florrie, who is all soft edges but with a mind as sharp as a tack. I loved her fellow residents too, particularly Stanhope, who she becomes good friends with, but also the varied personalities of all the other characters.

It’s fair to say that when I start marking pages that contain paragraphs I want to remember, then that is a sign of a really good book for me. The writing is poetically beautiful, so profound and reflective. I drank in hungrily the wealth and depth of the detail in this story, of Florrie’s upbringing, her love for her family, the difficult times she went through and the joys she experienced. I was in awe of how Fletcher delicately and deftly scattered breadcrumbs throughout, to enable the story to unfold organically and to keep the mysterious elements just that, until the moment came for them to step forward into the limelight.

The Night in Question is a very special book indeed. I’ve read Susan Fletcher’s books before and enjoyed them, but this one is an absolute triumph. It’s not one thing or another, it’s everything all at once. It’s superb!

Susan Fletcher was born in Birmingham and studied English Literature at the University of York. Whilst taking the MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, she began her first novel, Eve Green, which won the Whitbread First Novel Award (2004) and Betty Trask Prize (2005). Since then, she has written seven novels, supplementing her writing through various roles including as a cheesemonger and a warden for an archaeological excavation site near Hadrian’s Wall. She has also been the Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Worcester. She lives in Warwickshire.


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