The Night Season reads like a hard rain - fast, intense, inescapable. Propelled forward by a fast-moving plot and the snappy dialogue of her characters, the story comes on strong and doesn't let up until it's done.
Here, in the fourth book of Cain's Portland crime series, we have the story of a modern-day Portland engulfed by rain and the ever-rising waters of the Willamette River, and the tale of Vanport, flooded 60 years previously. Mysterious deaths are uncovered that link both to the modern age and the previous one, and it's up to detective Archie Sheridan and reporter Susan Ward (with new vibrantly-colored hair) to unravel the mystery, all while trying to stay alive. In Cain's hands, there's lots of twists and turns in a story that moves as fast as the river's floodwaters, and an ending that does not disappoint.
What's impressive here is how Cain takes established characters and lets extreme circumstances change the game. The whole series has been set in Portland, but in The Night Season we have new suspense created by constant rain, rising waters, and a drenched city. Locations that should be safe suddenly aren't, and threats that didn't exist previously now loom large, all overshadowed by weather that creates a sense of danger that never lets up.
The only thing lacking is Gretchen Lowell. The presence that dominated (what an appropriate word) the previous three books in this series only makes a few brief appearances here. We're told that she's been silent ever since her incarceration and will only speak to Sheridan, who refuses to see her or talk to her at all. Her absence is a hard void to fill, something that another killer and an elemental force can't even quite do. Gretchen seems an elemental force herself, and without her even a great story isn't quite the same.
And we do have a great story here. It's not as breathless or as extreme as the previous books were, but it's told with the same deft hand, the same sharp eye for detail, and the same compelling voice. The Night Season is almost everything I've come to expect from Chelsea Cain's excellent and enthralling books.
But I guess once you've had Gretchen, even a deluge can't quite compare.
In The Night Season Chelsea Cain’s continues her promising series of thrillers featuring detective Archie Sheridan and a fascinating cast of characters, with the free spirited reporter Susan Ward being at the epicenter of this adventure. In this new novel, the Beauty Killer Gretchen Lowell is finally in the background, but she will never be out of the picture as Archie will be forever damaged and sickeningly drawn to this dastardly beautiful female … more
History repeats itself in The Night Season, when the Willamette River rises nearly as high as in 1948, when it swept away an entire town in less than an hour. Now the city of Portland itself is threatened, but there's more than a flood to worry about when a series of drownings turn out to be murder by octopus. If you can swallow the idea that a serial killer would choose such a bizarre, troublesome method when a simple hypodermic would do, this isn't a bad mystery. Detective Archie Sheridan … more
With serial killer Gretchen Lowell locked up, Archie Sheridan can concentrate on more pressing issues, like the Willamette River threatening to overflow its banks, in Cain's fine fourth thriller to feature the Portland, Ore., detective. When a body turns up at an amusement park, Archie thinks it's just another drowning, until the coroner finds a puncture wound. The case becomes a murder investigation when similar marks are found on other recent victims thought to have succumbed to the Willamette's rising waters. Meanwhile, reporter Susan Ward is writing a piece on a skeleton uncovered at the site of what was once Vanport, a town destroyed by a flood in 1948. She tags along with Archie's team as they try to pinpoint not only the killer's motive but also his bizarre toxin. Cain easily weaves the history of the real-life Vanport flood with her trademark heart-stopping moments, and fans will be pleased to see the series flourishing without Gretchen on every page. 150,000 first printing. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.