Lori Rader-Day’s new psychological thriller, Under a Dark Sky, lives up to the promise of the Mary Higgins Clark and Anthony Award winner’s previous novels.

The care and attention to detail in setting, character emotions and plot make this a compelling read, when young widow Eden Wallace arrives at a Michigan dark sky park on what she thinks will be a solo vacation arranged as a surprise by her dead husband.

She couldn’t be more wrong on several fronts, but she’s battling night terrors, and needs to conquer both her fear of the dark and a future without her husband.

But her private retreat turns out to be a multi-guest lodge, and the six others are all college friends there for a reunion. It’s an odd assortment of varying personalities, some paired off, others not, but Eden is clearly the outsider and plans to return to her Chicago home the next day.

Then one of the friends is murdered in the middle of the night, and being on the premises puts Eden in the unfortunate position of being both a suspect and a witness.

That distance from the group gives her a certain clarity as to their actions–or does it? Cordoned together at a seedy motel, deprived of the little sleep she’s able to get in daylight, Eden suffers under a grueling investigation with only one certainly in sight: one of the others is a killer.

As horrific accidents pile up, secrets are revealed and Eden realizes her own life is in danger. But how can she figure out who has been prepared to commit murder over and over?

Narrated by Eden, we see things from her point of view and her impressions of the group, which are all shaded by her own experience with her dead husband, a vet who suffered from PTSD whos carried secrets of his own that have devastated her.

Rader-Day builds the suspense page by page in a relentless way. The setting has that closed-house feel reminiscent of a Christie mystery with added layers of depth to characters who feel distinct and real.

Auntie M heard Rader-Day talk about the dark night sky part at Malice Domestic this year and knew that choice of setting alone was an inspired choice for the book.

A superb, riveting read. Highly recommended~