by Gail Ward Olmsted
Forty-two-year-old Miranda Quinn has bounced back with a late-night phone-in legal advice radio show broadcast from her home studio in Old Lyme, Connecticut. It’s proving popular and Miranda’s life has turned around significantly in the last two years, things could not be better.
However, when her best friend’s son is arrested on seemingly watertight sexual offense charges and then a creepy caller to her radio show starts to escalate his threats, Miranda’s dream existence quickly turns into a nightmare…
Miranda Nights is the second Miranda Quinn novel from Olmsted. I have not read the first but it in no way hindered my understanding or enjoyment of this outing.
Olmsted weaves backstory and pertinent information early on through the narrative so a new reader is aware of Miranda’s journey thus far and, Miranda Nights comfortably reads as a standalone story.
A lot is happening in the novel and, overall, it works well. Olmsted capably delivers what she promises and Miranda Nights is an easy, entertaining read and would be a perfect beach book.
Notwithstanding its upbeat, jaunty tone, there is a dark twist involving Chase Ryan, Tracey’s son at the end of Chapter Two which is quite unexpected and certainly provokes thought for any readers with teenage children.
The majority of the narrative is written from Miranda’s perspective. However, this is interleaved with the point of view of Miranda’s late-night sinister caller. He presents a different side to Miranda and, at first, possibly elicits some sympathy from the reader.
Miranda is unfailingly breezy and tenacious which does occasionally become a touch irritating. Although it is refreshing to read of a couple in their forties who aren’t represented meanly, I did find her and Eric a bit syrupy.
Nonetheless, she is a strongly defined character who is well-developed and amusingly relatable with a witty turn of phrasing and sharp self-awareness, making her an excellent figurehead for this series.
Olmsted packs several plotlines into Miranda Nights. The two main stories run alongside each other and then the reader is given tangents with the Ryan family, separate from the issues with their son, Chase. There are health and work-related concerns with Miranda and so on. It could have become somewhat overloaded but Olmsted maintains interest and continuity, it’s fast-paced and addictive to read.
I expected a couple of the sub-plots to be related and I did feel the stalker angle petered out a little disappointingly. Olmsted flirts with thriller and domestic drama territory but does pull back from taking the reader into deeply unpleasant ground which, upon reflection, is quite possibly the right move as Miranda Nights is, ultimately, a feel-good novel.
One of the reasons for this uplifting feeling is the palpable, almost breathless sense of just how much Olmsted likes the individual she has created. She definitely has a lot more to give with Miranda Quinn and the reader is effortlessly absorbed into the character’s life, family, and friends.
Her writing throughout Miranda Nights is accomplished, confident, and, occasionally excitable, all of which makes for an infectiously good read and a decent slice of escapism. Well worth a look.