The Night Season (Book 4, Archie Sheridan Series)
by Chelsea Cain
Release Date: March 1st, 2011
2011 Minotaur Books
Hardcover Edition; 336 Pages
Genre: Fiction / Suspense / Murder / Mystery
Source: Review Copy Provided by Anna Suknov
3.5 / 5 Stars
With the Beauty Killer Gretchen Lowell locked away behind bars once again, Archie Sheradan - a Portland police detective and nearly one of her victims - can finally rest a little easier. Meanwhile, the rest of the city of Portland is in crisis. Heavy rains have flooded the Willamette River, and several people have drowned in the quickly rising waters. Or at least that's what they thought until the medical examiner discovers that the latest victim didn't drown: She was poisoned before she went into the water. Soon, Portland has a new serial killer on its hands, and Archie and his task force have a new case.
What I found really difficult with this novel is that it came on the heels of the highly intense and immensely satisfying Gretchen Lowell novels and I had a hard time reconciling the fact that the lovely and extremely dangerous Gretchen was no longer to play a part in this novel. While The Night Season was interesting, it just didn't seem to have that same intensity and 'punch' that was in the previous novels.
Archie Sheridan has several major problems with which to deal in this novel: the rising flood waters that were overtaking Portland, a mysterious serial killer who was taking out his victims a most unusual method, the disappearance of a nine-year-old boy, the finding of a body on a carousel in a local amusement park, and the discovery of a sixty-year-old skeleton. I found the setting of the novel to be fascinating as the constant rain and the floodwaters made for some dark and eerie backgrounds and has a way of making events seem even more macabre than they are. The characters spend much of their time in wet clothes, being rescued from the river or some such area, or having to deal with situations and events that take place in areas that are flooded or are in danger of being flooded.
Archie is back to work, clean and fairly healthy, having spent a considerable amount of time in the hospital dealing with the after-effects of his time with Gretchen. I enjoyed this aspect of the novel, learning how he is coping with the events in the previous novels, and how it has affected his relationships. I adore Archie and want him to succeed in every aspect of his life. We also see much more of Susan Ward in this novel, a wacky reporter who always seems to be around when things happen. Susan kind of drives me nuts because she seems to lack a total sense of preservation and common sense at times, as one particular scene will show you very clearly, and walked into danger that was just screaming with warnings. I just wanted to shake her silly more than once. I really don't know what to think of her and will wait to reserve judgment in future novels.
I do have to say that the plot did not pack the intensity that the previous novels in this series did. In fact, it really seemed to play a background role to the rains and floods that were occurring and I did not find it as interesting as the flooding scenarios. The method the serial killer used to kill his victims seemed interesting, but I felt the author was reaching a little to try to make it interesting when really, a needle would have done the same thing. The language and the writing style were, as usual, great, and Ms. Cain has a way of drawing you into the events, and into the characters, so that you have difficulty putting the novel down, despite the lack of intensity in the plot.
The Night Season was still an interesting and fascinating read. Despite the lack of intensity, perhaps marred because I enjoyed her previous three novels so much, I still enjoyed this novel and found it engrossing because Ms. Cain's writing style just wraps you in the story and in the characters. The novel works because the police and National Guard procedures are interesting, the setting is dark and foreboding, and the flooding scenes are fascinating.