Author: Jeffrey Leever
In his most recent novel, Dark Friday, Jeffrey Leever drops his readers into Jasonville, Indiana, a small-town of 2500 located in the middle of nowhere. You would even think, as most of the locals do, that it would be the safest place on earth! Unfortunately, your belief would be quickly shattered when you learn that on one rainy Friday evening five teen-age girls were brutally murdered and there were also two other attempted murders as well as an attack on the police chief. Such is the background of this riveting mystery which unfolds when the local Police Chief Bertrand Rix is called to the scene of these vicious murders that apparently were perpetrated at the hands of someone disguised in a mask.
While racing to the crime scene, Rix’s squad car hits someone running on the street, who although seems to be badly injured and perhaps even dead, miraculously leaps up and continues his sprint. Rix ends up pursuing a young man through the streets of Jasonville and both wind up in a cemetery, where after being attacked by the assailant, Rix finally subdues and arrests Cameron Ford who turns out to be one of the town’s teenage inhabitants.
As we later learn, Rix is not convinced that Ford committed all of the crimes and as he tells his associate, “whenever a case seems easy, ask yourself what your assumptions would be if the biggest clue hadn’t fallen into your lap.”
Leever uses flashbacks to bring us up to speed as to who is this Ford kid and perhaps why he is being accused of murdering the five teenagers. We meet six of Ford’s high school buddies who have formed a secret society, the Fraternal Order of Friday. The group meets every Friday evening in the basement of the home of one of its members where they shoot the breeze, drink, eat and watch and analyze horror movies. During the course of one of these meetings the following hideous question, known as the “Whooper question,” was thrown out by Ford, “If you were going to kill one chick from school, who could it be?” Could this be the beginning of something appalling?
We also meet Kevin Gibson, an investigative reporter from Indianapolis, who is asked by his editor to scoop the competition and check out Jasonville in order to find out more about these horrendous crimes. While staying in the town’s local motel, Gibson is surprised to discover a disturbing note tucked under the door of his room. Someone is not very pleased about his snooping around Jasonville and Gibson now has the feeling that something is not right quite with the police investigation where it is automatically presumed that Ford committed all of the murders.
Thrown into the plot is another twist when we learn that on the night of the murders a young man by the name of Toomie Moore had stolen his uncle’s moped and rode to a nearby state park where he saw something and someone suspicious.
One gripe I have with the story is the brief insertion of a religious element where Ford on a few occasions meets with the prison’s chaplain. As this does very little to move the plot along, it would have been better left out. However, notwithstanding this shortcoming, I have to admit that Leever can clearly write and he knows how to put together a gripping nail-bitter of a thriller. He has a sharp ear for dialogue and overall Dark Friday is readable and well paced with enough intrigue and mystery that holds you spellbound, keeping you flipping the pages long into the night. Leever’s research concerning small town USA is solid and when I recently interviewed him, he did mention that he had spent a good deal of time visiting the place in Indiana where the novel is set. Leever’s various characters are filled to the brim with teenage life and are quite satisfying and believable. And although Leever may not be a household name insofar as mystery writers are concerned, he is one that deserves your attention.
The above review was contributed by: NORM GOLDMAN: Retired Title Attorney: Editor & Publisher of Bookpleasures. Here are Norm Goldman's Reviews
To read Norm's Interview with Jeffrey Leever CLICK HERE