The Chill of Night (Thorndike Large Print Crime Scene)

Image of The Chill of Night (Thorndike Large Print Crime Scene)
Release Date: 
December 21, 2010
Thorndike Press
Reviewed by: 

The setting is Portland, Maine. The month is December, and the weather is bitter cold. The reviewer is reading this new mystery by James Hayman on a sweltering August day in California. The tale affords an escape from the everyday world in more ways than just location and weather.

The main character, Detective Sargent Michael McCabe, has accomplished what many folks only dream about: transplanting himself and his daughter from New York City to a closely knit community away from big-city violence and crime. But has he? A German luxury car abandoned on the Portland Fish Pier for several days contains a frozen body in the trunk. So what happened to the charm and quaintness of the postcard setting, much less the implied safety? It seems evil lurks even in the nicest of locales.

After the body is carefully thawed out, the identification is made and the detective work begins. Since most folks know each other around this part of town, McCabe bounces back and forth among his suspects, gathering clues while attempting to eliminate suspects.

To his credit, Hayman includes Abby, a young woman with schizophrenia, as the only witness to the crime. Without getting on a soapbox or dragging down the story, he develops her character with solid information about her disease, which helps to explain her actions. Unfortunately, the policeman on duty when she bursts into the stationhouse has a very hard time believing Abby’s excited ramblings about the murderer and dismisses her report as a hallucination. This lack of understanding delays the hunt for the killer and places others in jeopardy.

James Hayman seamlessly picks up from his first mystery novel, The Cutting, with his core characters McCabe; his artist girlfriend Kyra; his 13-year-old daughter Cassie; his ex-wife Sandy; and Maggie Savage, who is his cop partner. Hayman spares a loyal reader from too much catching up by keeping to the tale at hand, providing only pertinent information that confirms the identities of the characters and their relationship to McCabe.

There are plenty of quirky and charming elements to the story that keep it from being maudlin. McCabe has his own form of mental challenge. He’s got an eidetic (perfect) memory that affords the author many opportunities to sneak in bits of trivia that will delight most readers.

On a more philosophical note, McCabe wrestles with his own personal demons and makes real progress toward disengaging from his frustrations with his ex-wife, Sandy. His relationships with Kyra and Cassie progress nicely. These characters and their interactions are compelling enough to merit a sequel.

Recommended for mystery lovers.