Monday, March 7, 2011

The Night Season

Gretchen Lowell, the Beauty Killer, is finally safely locked up so Archie Sheridan can focus on other things. Their love-hate relationship is finally laid to rest and Archie has become much healthier. He no longer pops pills as if they were candy and religiously goes to his therapy sessions. There isn't long to relax because of the torrential, heavy rains causing the Willamette River to come to the cusp of flooding. As a result, drownings are becoming a more frequent occurence and the corpse of a man who died sixty years ago is found, which is possibly a link to a devastating flood that destroyed the city Vanport in 1968. The drownings, upon closer analysis, seem to be linked because of a strange mark found on the palm of each victim. Archie is on the case with quirky, nosy, indomitable Susan Ward. The increasingly bad weather and threatening flood make it harder for them to do their job and easier for the killer to disguise his actions. Can Susan and Archie catch the killer before they become victims themselves?

When I found out that Gretchen Lowell wasn't going to be featured in The Night Season, I was a bit wary of being bored or having this one not measure up to the rest of the series. Her presence is so magnetic and her and Archie's relationship is as sick and twisted as they come. I found out that Chelsea Cain's writing speaks for itself and doesn't need Gretchen Lowell at all to be incredibly addictive. It still has the same fluidity and holds my interest until I'm staying up at all hours of the night just to find out what happens. Gretchen's absence also allowed Archie Sheridan and Susan Ward to develop without her corrupting influence. Archie stopped most of his self destructive behaviors and is as healthy as he can be with extensive liver damage, scars, and no spleen. Susan shows another side of herself when she puts the friends that she has made in the police force over her job getting the latest scoop to publish the paper. She also has a larger role in story than she has in the past. Together, they make an odd, yet strangely harmonious mystery-solving pair.

The new killer is interesting enough with a very strange mode of murder, but the real star of The Night Season is the threatening flood. It makes simple, inane things very difficult and fills each scene with tension that builds until its climax at the end of the novel. It's almost as if the flood is a looming, silent character that is omnipresent and without human emotions. I really liked the prologue at the beginning of the novel that linked a horrific flood from the past to the current flood and unexpectedly tied the loose ends of the mystery together. It showed the mastery of Chelsea Cain's writing that the flood was not only a biproduct of the weather, but also created a tense ambience and was used as an integral part of the mystery.

I enjoyed The Night Season immensely and I highly recommend it to fans of mysteries or books about serial killers. The story is a great mystery that has unexpected twists and turns. This book could be read as a stand alone, but it's better to read the rest of the series to better understand the relationships and motivations of the characters.
My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

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