Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Chill of the Night-James Hayman

The Chill of the Night
James Hayman
Minotaur, Jun 22 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312532710

In Maine at the Portland Fish Exchange, an abandoned car contains a naked corpse. Portland PD Detectives Michael McCabe and Maggie Savage lead the investigation into the homicide of young attorney Lanie Goff. A piece of paper stating: “Amos. 9:10” is left with the frozen body; Michael knows that means sinners must be punished.

On nearby Harts Island paranoid schizophrenic Abby Quinn hears voices in her head; her psychiatrist prescribes medicine to help her. She works at the Legion bar, which she closed early. That is how she saw the naked man use a blade to puncture a nude woman's neck. Stunned she runs to the local Portland PD station where she wakes up Bowman the cop on duty. He assumes she was having one of her hallucinations so he offers to take her to the hospital instead. Now four days later, McCabe heads to Harts Island to interview a witness that the local cop did not believe so a jury would be even less likely to do so. McCabe knows that if he fails to find the culprit Death will occur again as the killer believes the Lord has sanctioned his or her quest.

This is an entertaining wintry Maine police procedural with a strong likable lead cop whose personal issues somewhat intrude on his investigation as little things he cannot help doing like comparing the victim to his ex-wife. That family intrusion and his “probable cause” to open the car trunk enhance the inquiry with realism. McCabe (see The Cutting) and the unique refreshing witness Abby make for a fine whodunit in a frozen locale only detracted by an avenging serial killer who is stereotypical of the subgenre.

Harriet Klausner

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