Friday, August 27, 2010

The Chill of Night by James Hayman -- Book Review

Portland homicide detective Michael McCabe returns in The Chill of Night by James Hayman.

When the naked frozen body of young attorney Lainie Goff is found in sub-zero temperatures at the end of the Portland Fish Pier, detective Mike McCabe and his partner, Maggie Savage, are called in to investigate. They soon discover the only witness to the crime--a mentally disturbed woman named Abby Quinn--mysteriously disappeared the same night.

McCabe is on the track of a clever killer, who may or may not know that Abby is the one who witnessed the crime. He must find Abby and the killer before another life is lost.

Things at home aren't so rosy either. A phone call from McCabe's ex-wife concerning their daughter, Casey, and relationship issues with Kyra, leave McCabe rethinking his past and present, and wondering about the future.

In this follow up to The Cutting, Hayman brings back Mike McCabe, Maggie Savage, and other members of the Portland PD to handle the investigation of the mysterious death of a glamorous, beautiful lawyer, who was moving swiftly toward a partnership in a prominent law firm. Hayman does an excellent job, as he did in the first book, of creating a suspenseful mystery for his characters to solve. Twists and turns keep the reader guessing the identity of the killer right along with McCabe. Hayman also does a fine job of describing the world in which McCabe lives and works.

McCabe's personal life is well drawn in The Chill of Night, as he is once again dealing a bit with his ex-wife, and complications arise in his current relationship with girlfriend, Kyra. My tiny complaint, which actually is a carry over of my feelings from the first book, is that his daughter, Casey, seems to be used solely to give McCabe an eternal tie to his past. In The Cutting, his ex-wife Sandy reappears after she had left Casey behind so she could marry another man. While Sandy's emergence causes conflict, and Casey is mentioned in several chapters of the book, I came away feeling like she was just a pawn the author used to keep McCabe tied to his past. Chapters would go by without a mention of Casey, and you were wondering what the heck she was doing all that time. I didn't cite this in my review because I thought I was being a bit too picky.

In The Chill of Night, however, Casey is absent for most of the book, having gone off with a friend on a trip. While she returns toward the end, I couldn't help but think how convenient her absence was. Though McCabe mentions her a couple of times, it nags at me that I didn't get to see more of them together. It's almost like watching an episode of a television show where you know kids exist, but they are barely mentioned or seen; kind of like having to wonder where young Grace was while Caroline was working at the restaurant in Little House on the Prairie.

It is my hope that Casey plays a deeper, more significant role in future installments of this series. While I'm reading these for the murder mystery, I still need to get to know McCabe as a person, the whole person, not just his work persona or as Sandy's ex-husband or Kyra's boyfriend. His being a single father is an important part of his character, and will hopefully be further developed.

That said, I felt The Chill of Night was a great addition to a series I am very excited about. I'll certainly be on the lookout for Hayman's next book.

Title: The Chill of Night
Author: James Hayman
Publisher: Minotaur Books
ISBN-10: 0312532717
ISBN-13: 978-0312532710
SRP: $24.99

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