Chelsea Cain is the best fiction writer of mysteries around these days who nobody is reading. It's like America just hasn't discovered her talent yet and she is flying under the radar. Wake up America, and read this woman. She is great.
I stumbled across her novel Heartsick and couldn't put it down. I loved the fact that she had created a female villain in Gretchen Lowell who is the equivalent of Hannibal Lecter. Gretchen is a heartless woman who tortures her victims before she kills them. Her biggest challenge is Portland Detective Archie Sheridan who she actually comes to love in a warped way.
Their relationship was further explored in Sweetheart, another great novel from Cain. In her latest novel The Night Season, Gretchen is in prison and Archie is back on the job. He is not in great shape as the result of the torture he received at Gretchen's hands but he is able to function.
In Portland the rain is falling, the climate is depressing, and people are dying. It looks like many of them are drowning in the flooding Willamette River but then further investigation shows the most recent bodies were murdered and then placed in the river. It looks like Portland has another serial killer on its hands.
Susan Ward heads out to cover the killings for her newspaper. She also seizes these occurrences as a reason to be near Archie again. She has a major crush on the detective but Archie is oblivious to it all -- or is he?
The killer, the way the murders are executed, those who are targeted, and those who are helping the killer are all unique aspects of this stunning case. This time it can't be blamed on Gretchen. She gets mentioned in the book but she is not the focus of the story. No this time out it is Archie and Susan and a supporting cast from the other two books.
In true Cain fashion no character in the story is safe. Those you think she would never kill off, she does. This unexpectedness is what keeps the story interesting and the readers off balance. From one page to the next, you never know what is going to happen.
Do you have to have read the first two books to enjoy this one? No, but it would help and would also add to the entertainment value. Still this book does qualify as a stand alone story and failure to have read the first two should not deter anyone from reading this one.
I am a Chelsea Cain fan of the highest degree. I feel in a sense that I discovered her (though she had a fine career going before I climbed aboard). She is a unique writer who knows how to create memorable characters and how to invent compelling plots. The Night Season delivers on those two qualifications with gusto.
So one evening, preferably a rainy and chilly one, settle down with The Night Season. You will be enthralled by the talent that is Chelsea Cain. She and her books are winners!
The Night Season is published by Minotaur Books. It contains 322 pages and sells for $24.99.
Jackie K Cooper
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