Katie(babs)'s Reviews > The Night Season

The Night Season by Chelsea Cain
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Mar 18, 2011

Ever since Chelsea Cain arrived on the scene four years ago with her Gretchen Lowell series, I’ve been hooked. For those who may not be aware, Gretchen isn't the protagonist, but the villain, and one who has made quite an impression as amoral serial killer obsessed with Portland, Oregon detective Archie Sheridan who knew her on more intimate terms. Some would say that Archie was a willing victim because he allowed himself to be placed in the situation where she tortured and mutilated him, but he lived, and because of it, has continual mental and physical anguish. Unlike the last three books, Gretchen is only in The Night Season for a blip, but her spirit is definitely alive because she’s always in the back of Archie’s mind. Since Gretchen makes such a strong impression, I thought I’d be disappointed here. I can’t get enough of this psychotic woman who makes grown men drool at her feet. Surprisingly, I wasn’t because Chelsea Cain is a very skilled author at keeping the tension and suspense alive without the benefit of such a memorable character. Also, her other characters are so well-rounded and realistic, where humor pops up even during the darkest moments.

A serial killer is poisoning victims with a deadly octopus (yes, it sounds silly at first, and even commented upon in the story, but it’s actually a great weapon), and as the killer’s victims becomes paralyzed, they slowly die and their corpses end up all over a flooded Portland. The weather is more than damp since the rain won’t let up and the river is overflowing and water is everywhere. Not a great crime scene to collect evidence, and even with Archie on the case, he has his hands tied. The serial killer hits close to home for him when his good friend and fellow detective, Henry goes missing and is near death’s door because of being attacked by the octopus serial killer. Now it has become personal for him. Also, a young boy he saved from drowning in the river maybe working with the killer by no choice of his own. Along with Susan, a reporter who tails him and has become a close ally and friend, (perhaps something even more growing between them) they have no idea who and why innocent people are being targeted. Susan thinks there might be a connection to a flood that occurred on Memorial Day 1948 that causes mass destruction and death. The killer may want revenge for all the lives lost. Or perhaps the killer is just some deranged maniac with no reason? What Archie does know is that they’re running out of time because the flood waters are rising and more bodies continue to pop up with no end in sight.

I really have to hand it to Chelsea for keeping me turning the pages. Archie really shines here as he uses his analytical mind in ways we haven’t seen before. He’s also not so closed off and distant as he has been before. His relationship with Susan continues to grow, and I really can’t tell you which way they’re headed. For now they’re friends with the possibility of something more between them. But Archie knows he has way too many issues. Susan has more than her share to get through. For now I’m fine with the way things are between them and can’t wait to see what other future crimes they work on together.

Unfortunately, the serial killer aspect was really weak and I really couldn’t get a good handle on why the killer acted the way they did. The killer was flat and too one-dimensional and their fascination with Susan didn’t make sense. I was hoping for someone with a bigger personality, much like Gretchen, but because she’s larger than life, no killer can compete. The Night Season worked for me because of Archie and Susan.

I think Chelsea played it smart by not having Gretchen as a focal point. There’s one small scene with her that’s very satisfying as it plays out. I really want to see her and Archie interact again, but not too much, because their relationship cannot sustain itself if every book is about them.

This is a fast paced read with writing that really grabs you. I never found myself confused at any point. Even with the lacking serial killer, I enjoyed myself. Popcorn comes to mind when reading a Chelsea Cain book. Tasty, satisfying and one where you want to read more as soon as you finish. Seriously, if you haven’t picked up this series, you’re really missing out.
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message 1: by orannia (new)

orannia I've had the first book on my library hold list ever since I read one of your reviews on an earlier book in the series. Reading your review has just reminded me why I need to start this series, so thank you :)

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