"The Night Season" by Chelsea Cain: Book Review

"The Night Season" by Chelsea Cain
Minotaur, 322 pp., $24.99
Reviewed by David Marshall James

Portland, Oregon, is getting wetter by the minute. The Willamette River, which flows through the middle of the city, is cresting above flood stage.

And the rain keeps falling.

The National Guard is out in force, supervising sandbagging efforts and prepping to enforce order in what looks to be an inevitable worst-case scenario.

Cars are stalling out in low-lying intersections. Business people are shutting up shops for the duration. People are losing power all over the place.

It's a cop's nightmare. It's a journalist's wet dream.

Speaking of cops, author Chelsea Cain's much battle-scarred (physically and psychologically, having been tortured by a female serial killer) Archie Sheridan, who has overcome an addiction to Vicodin, is slapped with a rapidly growing string of suspicious deaths.

On the surface, they appear to be drownings. However, something far sinister and far creepier is afloat.

In splashes newspaper columnist Susan Ward-- she of the fruit-flavored hair colors, tree-hugging mother, and boundless energy attendant to someone who's still in her twenties.

She's also bigger buddies with the cops than with the vending-machine junkies back in the Portland Herald newsroom.

When the killings really hit home, Archie and Susan push themselves into hyperdrive. That's easier for her; meanwhile, Archie can't stop jumping in far over his head.

In this, her fourth novel, Cain keeps her recurring serial-killer character (the one who messed up Archie) behind bars, which is just as well, as the person behind the "apparent drownings" is enough of a nut-job to go around.

The "Portland Under Water" theme remains a constant-- the prevailing mood of the novel-- resulting in a variety of action-filled minidramas that are nicely blended into the whole.

Indeed, the setting and mood define the novel as much as the characters, who are all rendered with enough flair to hold the reader submerged in a thriller that may weigh in as somewhat predictable for die-hard fans of the genre.

Nevertheless, the author adds several well-fitted twists toward the close.

And her efforts to maintain the reader's attention, come hell or high water, are nothing short of laudable.

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