The Cutting (McCabe and Savage Series #1)

The Cutting (McCabe and Savage Series #1)

4.3 108
by James Hayman
     
 

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From a formidable new voice in suspense fiction comes an edge-of-the-seat story of a homicide detective on the trail of a killer, who slays with exacting precision, and who harbors a terrifying motive

Detective Sergeant Michael McCabe moved from New York City to Portland, Maine, to escape a dark past: both the ex-wife who’d left him for an

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Overview

From a formidable new voice in suspense fiction comes an edge-of-the-seat story of a homicide detective on the trail of a killer, who slays with exacting precision, and who harbors a terrifying motive

Detective Sergeant Michael McCabe moved from New York City to Portland, Maine, to escape a dark past: both the ex-wife who’d left him for an investment banker, and the tragic death of his brother, a hero cop gone bad. He sought to raise his young daughter away from the violence of the big city . . . so he’s unprepared for the horrific killer he discovers, whose bloody trail may lead to Portland’s social elite.

Early on a September evening, the mutilated body of a pretty teenaged girl, a high school soccer star, is found dumped in a scrap-metal yard. She had been viciously assaulted, but her heart had been cut out of her chest with surgical precision. The very same day a young businesswoman, also a blonde and an athlete, was abducted as she jogged through the streets of the city’s west end. McCabe suspects both crimes are the work of the same man---a killer who’s targeting the young---who is clearly well-versed in complex surgical procedures, and who may have struck before. Just as the investigation is beginning, McCabe’s ex-wife reemerges, suddenly determined to reclaim the daughter she heedlessly abandoned years earlier.

With the help of his straight-talking (and, at times, alluring) partner, Maggie Savage, McCabe begins a race against time to rescue the missing woman and unmask a sadistic killer---before more lives are lost.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“An extraordinary debut and an exceptional thriller, The Cutting is razor-sharp, heartfelt, and superbly written. James Hayman is a tremendous new voice in crime fiction, and this book flat-out smokes. Hayman writes characters you feel bone-deep and want to meet again and again.”

---Julia Spencer-Fleming, Edgar Award finalist and author of I Shall Not Want

“Big-city wicked invades the Pine Tree State in James Hayman’s The Cutting. This is a stunning debut that gripped me from first page to last. A thriller of a thriller!”

---Tess Gerritsen, author of The Keepsake

From the Providence Journal

Recommended
“The Cutting”: Bright, appealing hero carries gruesome thriller
By Mandy Twaddell

A thriller promises a heinous crime that is imminent: There is urgency, mounting suspense, a quickened pulse as pages turn. One reads a thriller to be frightened in safe surroundings. But often they are formulaic, failing to scare.

Not so with this debut novel, which introduces a homicide cop, Mike McCabe, an appealing man who respects women, loves kids, and is brighter than most. He has the memory of a hard drive, storing extraneous facts that he can retrieve and attach to a loose end, connecting strands of information until a meaningful pattern emerges. In McCabe’s line of work, that’s a useful talent.

He has moved to Portland, Maine, looking for a fresh start after his wife deserted him. Portland is a low crime area, flush with urban amenities. It’s a decent place to raise his teenage daughter, and he lands a job with the Crimes Against People Division of the Police Department.

His success as a “star” detective in the Big Apple precedes him, arousing some resentment from the local enforcers, mixed with a respect for his professionalism. Thankfully, the dialogue is not overly cluttered with the departmental banter that typically stalls a detective story.

The plot begins with a grisly, horrific killing, so excruciating that Hannibal Lecter seems gentle by comparison. The nude body of a young woman is found in a scrap yard, her heart cut out in a meticulous way. Rather than a slash, there is a cutting that suggests a surgeon’s skill.

The oddity of the murder has McCabe thinking back to an unsolved crime that occurred in Florida several years earlier. The heart of that victim was also missing. The gruesome aspects are not for the squeamish. Next, an athletic jogger, Lucinda Cassidy, disappears, and it is clear that she has been abducted.

These crimes shout that a madman is loose in Portland. The precise cutting is a signature, and McCabe must determine if the perpetrator is a blood-lusting maniac killing for thrills, or a trained murderer with a larger objective. Either way the clock is ticking on Lucinda’s life.

You will suspect the motivation behind the crimes before McCabe, but your insight was intended. Bookstores have been looking for a writer of popular fiction who can reliably produce a bestseller. James Hayman, a Brown grad, has invented a cop with sophisticated tastes. If your summer reading includes a psychological thriller, this one’s for you.

From the Bangor Daily News:

Unsettling thriller a solid debut

7/20/09
by Judy Harrison

Sam Spade had San Francisco.

Spenser has Boston.

Mma Ramotswe has all of Botswana.

Now, McCabe has Portland — as in Maine.

Maybe it’s the other way around. Portland has McCabe.

It’s hard to tell sometimes whether a detective in a mystery novel owns the setting or it owns the detective. What really matters is that the location becomes such an integral part of the character that it is inseparable from the gumshoe, P.I. or self-educated investigator who always, eventually, solves the crime.

Author James Hayman, a New Yorker who moved to Maine’s largest city in August 2001 after a career on Madison Avenue, has brought Portland to life in his first novel “The Cutting.” Hayman’s lead character is Portland Police Detective Sgt. Michael McCabe, a man who fled big-city evil only to have it follow him.

Like many a good crime thriller, “The Cutting” opens with a snapshot of the killer’s childhood in the prologue and switches to the victim in the opening chapter. That is where Hayman begins his intimate and telling portrait of the city.

“Fog can be a sudden thing on the Maine coast,” it reads. “On even the clearest morning, swirling gray mists sometimes appear in an instant, covering the earth with an opacity that makes it hard to see even one’s own feet on the ground. On this particular September morning, it descended at 5:30, about the time Lucinda Cassidy and her companion Fritz, a small dog of indeterminate pedigree, arrived at the cemetery on Vaughan Street to begin their four-mile run along the streets of Portland’s West End and the path that borders the city’s Western Promenade.”

Cassidy and Fritz disappear in that fog. McCabe, who works for the Crimes Against People unit, and his partner, Maggie Savage, are assigned to investigate and determine if their disappearance could be linked to the murder of a high school soccer player. Her naked body, minus the heart, is found in “a small industrial wasteland slated for development.”

Hayman’s pacing is perfect. He sends the detective hurtling after the killer but also allows McCabe to stop just often enough for readers to learn how deeply damaged the man is. At his core, the policeman, like the victims for whom he seeks justice, is fragile. It is his stubborn tenacity, his young daughter and his artist girlfriend that keep him going.

“The Cutting” is an unsettling thriller, not because Portland and the state have a history of madmen killing strangers on a rampage. What’s frightening is that Hayman makes it seem possible, even probable.

The author appeared July 11 at the Thriller Fest in New York on a panel of debut authors hosted by David Baldacci. Maine authors Tess Gerritsen, who writes medical mysteries, and Julia Spencer-Fleming, whose detective is an Episcopal priest, wrote jacket blurbs praising “The Cutting.”

That means Hayman will and should be published again. The author, his detective and the city both call home are a welcome addition to the mystery-detective-thriller genre. Soon, McCabe will be to Portland what Spenser is to The Hub.

It will be interesting to see how Hayman weaves the immigrant community that now is a vital element of the city’s identity into a mystery and the way McCabe unravels it. Recent events surely offer more than enough inspiration, as does what can be seen after the fog burns off and the Portland emerges.


From the Portland Press Herald:

Detective gives depth, life to Portland murder-myster

By NANCY GRAPE

August 2, 2009

When author James Hayman moved on from a full career as a creative advertising director in New York, he packed his bags for Maine. And he didn't come alone.

With Hayman came his wife, artist Jeanne O'Toole Hayman, and his fictional creation, Michael McCabe, a high-level police detective eager to turn his decaying cop's life in New York City into a new life in Portland for himself and his young daughter.

Hayman has done him proud. In "The Cutting," he gives readers a suspenseful police procedural whirling around a character who has the brains, courage and human concern to be the reader's hero from start to finish.

All in all, if that sounds like a rave review, it's because I intend this to be one. Rarely does a new novelist make a debut, in Maine or anywhere else, as polished, well-paced and plotted as this one.

Even less often does a writer create characters as well-drawn and centered as Hayman gives us with his Portland Police Detective Sgt. Mike McCabe, three years into life in his new city.

The book piqued my interest from the first page, and I didn't stop thinking about it until the tale was told and the book was done.

The story centers on young athletes, busy and strong, who disappear from their lives in Portland only to have their bodies later discovered – hidden away except for their hearts, which have been painstakingly removed.

Hayman sets McCabe on the case. So does Portland Police Chief Tom Shockley, a man with a sharp eye for the media and a taste for public news conferences.

"McCabe, we've just had a horrible murder of an innocent teenaged girl. On the very same day, another young woman is kidnapped," Shockley tells him. "The public has a right to know what's going on. What we're doing to catch the killer. The media expects you to be part of the briefings, and so do I.

"Cases like these don't happen in Portland – at least not very often – but they're part of the reason I pushed back against both the union and department tradition to offer you a job."

All was not nobility of purpose in this order to share the stage, however, and McCabe knew it. "He knew it wasn't the need for a press briefing that was bugging him. That was a given," he thought.

"What was really (bothering) him was his feeling that, deep down, Shockley saw Katie Dubois' murder as an opportunity to generate headlines that'd make him look good, headlines that might even lend traction to his rumored run for governor."

So, Hayman's new hero comes to Portland with more than courage and compassion; he comes with city shrewdness and big-time smarts.

It is part of the richness of "The Cutting" that McCabe also humanizes his environment, bringing it both honor and depth.

Hayman gives him a first-rate portrait of Portland in which to enact his manhunt. And, in addition to the daughter his ex-wife left behind, he gives McCabe a credible romance and a second waiting in the wings – this one with his police partner, Detective Maggie Savage. All are part of a large and credible cast that enhances this book.

But it is McCabe who brings its pages to life and gives it depth. "Standing here in a scrap yard in Portland, Maine, McCabe suddenly had the feeling he was back in New York," Hayman writes. "It wasn't like he was imagining it. Or remembering it. It was like he was really there. He could hear the rush of the city. He could smell the stink of it. A hundred bloodied corpses paraded before his eyes.

"His right hand drew comfort from resting on the handle of his gun. Mike McCabe once again lured to the chase.

"He knew with an absolute certainty that this was his calling. That it was here, among the killers and the killed, that he belonged. No matter how far he ran, no matter how well he hid, he'd never leave the violence or his fascination with it behind."

Readers can only hope those words also frame a promise to them from Hayman. Mike McCabe emerges from "The Cutting" a detective many readers are going to want enriching Maine for a long, long time.

Publishers Weekly

Hayman's clichéd debut introduces Det. Sgt. Michael McCabe of the Portland, Maine, PD. A former NYPD detective, McCabe relocated to raise his 13-year-old daughter in a supposedly safer place and to escape a nasty divorce. When a young woman disappears soon after the body of a 16-year-old girl turns up in a scrap yard with her heart neatly cut out, McCabe fears a serial killer is on the loose. McCabe's investigation leads him and his partner, Det. Maggie Savage, to a prominent cardiac surgeon specializing in transplants. Racing against the clock even as he uncovers more victims, McCabe is determined to find the killer and rescue the missing woman before time runs out. Hayman treads the well-worn path of troubled cop vs. serial killer without injecting new life into either the hero or the villain. Even thriller fans unfamiliar with the predecessors from whom Hayman borrows will figure out the mystery long before McCabe. (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
A serial killer and his support team roam the East Coast from Florida to Maine. A pretty blond high-school girl, a soccer star, is found in a vacant lot a week after she's been raped and killed. Another blonde, a jogger, goes missing. Tying the cases together is ex-New York homicide cop Michael McCabe, now divorced, bringing up a 13-year-old daughter with help from his girlfriend Kyra, and relocated to Portland, where he heads the city's Crimes Against People unit. A fact the media are unaware of, the surgical removal of the soccer player's heart, leads the cops to interview medical personnel and focus on transplant specialist Philip Spencer. Spencer offers an alibi, a night at home with his wife Hattie, but instead of backing him up, she says she was visiting family in Blue Hill. Once the autopsy indicates that a week had passed between the victim's capture and death, the race is on to find the second victim before the deadline. With help from a guilt-ridden Frenchwoman, McCabe and his team zero in on a team of illegal operators who've been harvesting hearts up and down the Eastern Seaboard for profit and sexual thrills. There'll be yet more fatalities before McCabe can relax and worry about less lethal matters, like the reappearance of his ex in his daughter's life. Former adman Hayman's debut piles on the gore and sexual sleaze, but provides a nice guy hero in McCabe. Author events in New England
Daily Mail (London) on THE CUTTING
“Taut, deft and with a delicate sense of place, this is supremely accomplished storytelling--not just another depiction of a serial killer rampage.”
Bangor Daily News on THE CUTTING
“Hayman’s pacing is perfect....THE CUTTING is an unsettling thriller, not because Portland and the state have a history of madmen killing strangers on a rampage. What’s frightening is that Hayman makes it seem possible, even probable”
Portland Press Herald on THE CUTTING
“In THE CUTTING, [Hayman] gives readers a suspenseful police procedural whirling around a character who has the brains, courage and human concern to be the reader’s hero from start to finish.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312531294
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
06/23/2009
Series:
McCabe and Savage Series, #1
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Portland, Maine

September 16, 2005

Friday. 5:30 A.M.

Fog can be a sudden thing on the Maine coast. On even the clearest mornings, swirling gray mists sometimes appear in an instant, covering the earth with an opacity that makes it hard to see even one's own feet on the ground. On this particular September morning it descended at 5:30, about the time Lucinda Cassidy and her companion Fritz, a small dog of indeterminate pedigree, arrived at the cemetery on Vaughan Street to begin their four-mile run along the streets of Portland's West End and the path that borders the city's Western Promenade.

The cemetery was one of Portland's oldest and was surrounded by a chain-link fence, now falling into disrepair. The gates on the Vaughan Street side were locked to keep out neighborhood dog walkers. The earliest gravestones dated back to the late 1700s. On most of these stones, dates and other specifics had faded to near illegibility. Those that could be read bore the names of early Portland's most prominent families, Deering, Dana, Brackett, Reed, Preble. These were old Yankee names, many of which had achieved a mea sure of immortality, having been bestowed upon the streets and parks of a young and growing city. More recent stones marked the graves of Irish, Italian, and French-Canadian immigrants who came to Portland to work in the city's thriving shipbuilding trades or on the railroads in the last half of the nineteenth century. Today, however, no more of the dead would be buried here, regardless of ancestry or influence. The place was full, the last remains having been interred and the last markers erected in the years immediately following World War II.

When the fog moved in, Lucy considered canceling her run, but only briefly. At age twenty-eight, she was preparing for her first 10K race. She had more than enough self-discipline not to let anything as transitory as a little morning fog interfere with her training schedule. It was tough enough getting the runs in, given the long hours she worked as the newest account executive at Beckman and Hawes, the city's biggest ad agency. In any case, Lucy knew her route well. The fog wouldn't be a problem as long as she took care not to trip on one of the sidewalk's uneven pavers.

The air was cool on her bare legs as Lucy performed her stretches—calves and quads and hamstrings. She pulled off her oversized Bates College sweatshirt, revealing a white sports bra and blue nylon shorts, and tossed it into her car, an aging Toyota Corolla.

She saw no other joggers or dog walkers and thought she and Fritz might well have the streets to themselves. She slipped off his collar to let him run free. He was well trained and wouldn't go far. She pulled a Portland Sea Dogs cap down over her blond hair, stretching the Velcro band down and under her ponytail. She draped the dog's lead around her shoulders and set off along Vaughan Street at a leisurely pace, with Fritzy first racing ahead and then stopping to leave his mark on a tree or lamppost.

Lucy liked the quiet of the early morning hours in this upscale neighborhood. Passing street after street of graceful nineteenth-century homes, she glanced in the windows and imagined herself living in one or another of them. The image pleased her. She saw herself holding elegant dinner parties. The food would be simple but perfectly prepared. The wines rare. The men handsome. The conversation witty. All terribly Masterpiece Theatre. Ah well, a pretty picture but not very likely. She was not, she knew, to the manner born. She watched Fritz scamper ahead and then turn and wait for her to follow.

Lucy moved through the damp morning air, bringing her heart rate up to an aerobic training level. She thought about the day ahead, reviewing, for at least the twentieth time, details of a TV campaign she was presenting to the marketing group at Mid-Coast Bank. She'd worked her tail off to land this new client, but they were turning out to be both difficult and demanding. After work, she planned a quick trip to Circuit City to pick up a birthday present for her soon-to-be twelve-year-old nephew Owen. Her older sister Patti's boy, Owen told her what he "really really wanted" was an iPod, but he wasn't optimistic. "We don't have the money this year," he added in grown-up, serious tones that had Patti's imprint all over them. Well, Owen was in for a big surprise.

After that it was back to the Old Port for dinner with David at Tony's. The prospect of dinner at Tony's pleased her. The prospect of sharing it with her ex-husband didn't. He was pushing to get back together, and yes, she admitted, there were times she was briefly tempted. God knows, no one else even remotely interesting was waiting in the wings. Yet after a couple of dates, she was surer than ever that going back to David wasn't the answer for either of them. She planned to tell him so to night.

She ran along Vaughan for a mile or so, climbing the gentle rise of Bramhall Hill, before turning west across the old section of the hospital toward the path that lined the western edge of the Prom. The fog was thicker now, and she could see even less, but her body felt good. The training was paying off, and she felt certain she'd be ready for the race, now ten days away.

Suddenly Fritz darted past and disappeared into the mist, barking furiously at what Lucy figured was either an animal or another runner coming up the path in her direction. Then she saw Fritz run out of the fog, turn, and stand his ground, angry barks lifting his small body in an uncharacteristic rage. Instantly alert, Lucy wondered who or what could be getting him so agitated. Usually he just wagged his stub of a tail at strangers.

Seconds later a runner emerged from the fog about fifteen feet in front of her. He was a tall man with a lean, well-muscled body. Had she seen him jogging here before? She didn't think so. He was unusually good-looking with dark, deep-set eyes that would be hard to forget. Late thirties or early forties, she thought. Fritz backed away but kept barking.

"Quiet down," Lucy commanded. "It's okay." She smiled at the man. "He isn't usually so noisy."

The tall man stopped and knelt down. He extended his left hand for Fritz to sniff, then scratched him behind the ears. He smiled up at Lucy. "What's his name?"

Lucy registered the absence of a wedding band. "Fritz," she said.

"Hey, Fritz, are you a good boy? Sure you are." He scratched Fritz again. The dog's stubby tail offered a tentative wag or two. He looked up. "I've seen you running here before. I'm sure I have."

"You may have," she said, though she was sure she would have noticed him. "I'm here most mornings. I'm training for a 10K."

"Good for you. Mind if I run along? I'd enjoy the company."

She hesitated, surprised at the man's directness. Finally she said, "I guess not. Not as long as you can keep up. I'm Lucy."

"Harry," he said, extending a hand. "Harry Potter."

"You're kidding."

"No, I was christened long before the first book came out, and I wasn't about to change my name."

They took off, chatting easily, laughing about the name. Fritz, no longer barking, kept pace.

"You live in Portland?" she asked.

"No, I'm here on business. Medical equipment. The hospital's one of my biggest clients."

"So you're here quite often?"

"At least once a month."

They picked up the pace and turned south down the western edge of the Prom.

"Normally there's a great view from up here. Can't see a damned thing today."

A dark green SUV sat parked at the curb just ahead of them. "Could you excuse me for a minute?" Harry pointed and clicked a key ring. The car's lights blinked; its doors unlocked. "I need to get something."

He leaned in, rummaged in a small canvas bag, and then emerged from the car holding a hypodermic and a small bottle. "I'm a diabetic," he explained. "I have to take my insulin on schedule." Harry carefully inserted the needle into the bottle and extracted a clear liquid. "Only take a second." Lucy smiled. Feeling it was rude to watch, she turned away and looked out over the Prom. The fog wasn't dissipating. If anything it seemed to be getting thicker. She performed a few stretches to keep her muscles warm while they waited.

She sensed more than saw the sudden movement behind her. Before she could react, Harry Potter's left arm was around her neck, pulling her sharply back and up in a classic choke hold. Her windpipe constricted in the crook of his elbow. She couldn't move. She wanted to scream but could draw only enough breath to emit a thin, strangled cry.

Frantic and confused, Lucy dug her nails into the man's flesh, wishing she'd let them grow longer and more lethal. She felt a sharp prick. She looked down and saw the man's free hand squeezing what ever was in the hypodermic into her arm. He continued holding her, immobile. She tried to struggle, but he was too strong, his grip too tight. Within seconds wooziness began to overtake her. She felt his hands on the back of her head and her butt, pushing her, headfirst, facedown, into the backseat of the car.

Turning her head, Lucy could still see out through the open door, but everything had taken on a hazy, distant quality, like a slow-motion film growing darker frame by frame and seeming to make no sense. She saw an enraged Fritz growling and digging his teeth into the man's leg. She heard a shout, "Shit!" Two large hands picked the small dog up. She tried to rise but couldn't. The last thing Lucinda Cassidy saw was the good-looking man with the dark eyes. He smiled at her. The slow-motion film faded to black.

Excerpted from The Cutting by James Hayman.

Copyright © 2009 by James Hayman.

Published in July 2009 by St. Martin's Press.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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