The New York Times
The Night Seasonby Chelsea Cain
With the Beauty Killer Gretchen Lowell locked away behind bars once again, Archie Sheridan—a Portland police detective and nearly one of her victims—can finally rest a little easier. Meanwhile, the rest of the city of Portland is in crisis. Heavy rains have flooded the Willamette River, and several people have drowned in the quickly rising waters. Or at… See more details below
With the Beauty Killer Gretchen Lowell locked away behind bars once again, Archie Sheridan—a Portland police detective and nearly one of her victims—can finally rest a little easier. Meanwhile, the rest of the city of Portland is in crisis. Heavy rains have flooded the Willamette River, and several people have drowned in the quickly rising waters. Or at least that's what they thought until the medical examiner discovers that the latest victim didn't drown: She was poisoned before she went into the water. Soon after, three of those drownings are also proven to be murders. Portland has a new serial killer on its hands, and Archie and his task force have a new case.
Reporter Susan Ward is chasing this story of a new serial killer with gusto, but she's also got another lead to follow for an entirely separate mystery: The flooding has unearthed a skeleton, a man who might have died more than sixty years ago, the last time Portland flooded this badly, when the water washed away an entire neighborhood and killed at least fifteen people.
With Archie following the bizarre trail of evidence and evil deeds to catch a killer and possibly regain his life, and Susan Ward close behind, Chelsea Cain—one of today's most talented suspense writers—launches the next installment of her bestselling series with an electric thriller.
The New York Times
Oregon detective Archie Sheridan and local journalist Susan Ward team up again in this extreme weather thriller. As heavy rains pound Portland, apparent drowning victims keep surfacing on the Willamette River. While others tremble before the steadily rising waters, the sleuth and reporter come to the harsh realization that a serial killer is loose and hiding behind nature's merciless torrents. Chelsea Cain's fourth Archie Sheridan mystery (Heartsick; Sweetheart; Evil at Heart) builds its intensity and suspense by rapid cuts between the ominous gathering flood and the dangerous manhunt. One of our most talented young mystery writers.
Finally free, at least physically, of his former lover and crazed torturer, Gretchen Lowell, who's behind bars, Portland Detective Archie Sheridan vies with a slightly more mundane serial killer in Cain's latest installment in the series (Heartsick, 2007, etc.).
Where do you go as a mystery writer after your beautiful, smart, cruelly amusing main attraction has pulled out all psychotic stops in making your star detective's life an unrelieved hell? Inthis volume, Cain gives Gretchen a breather and replaces her with a largely unseen male menace. Accompanied by a nine-year-old boy who was stolen from his parents 18 months ago, this serial killer carries around small, blue-ringed octopuses in baggies, subjects his victims to their poisonous bites and tosses the corpses in the river. The killings begin after the discovery of a skeleton points back to the Vanport flood of 1948, which wiped out an entire public-housing project and claimed the lives of many residents who were tardily warned by authorities of the impending disaster. Sixty-two years later, with the overflowing Willamette River about to wreak havoc on Portland, two people close to the still-shaky Sheridan are touched by the octopus killer's evil: Henry Sobol, a fellow cop, and Susan Ward, a hungry crime columnist with wild hair. Compared to the Gretchen Lowell books, there's nothing else particularly wild aboutthis novel.But the story is deftly handled, the suspense is plentiful and Cain's evocation of the gloomy atmosphere and Portland setting is superb. Gretchen fans will be pleased when she shows up at the end and with a glance tells us we haven't seen the last of her, but this novel does an excellent job of killing time until then.
A strong and satisfying, if less extreme, outing from the new queen of serial-killer fiction.
Read an Excerpt
The Night Season
By Chelsea Cain
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2011 Verite Inc.
All rights reserved.
Technically, the park was closed.
But Laura knew a place where the wire fence was split, and she had let the Aussies through and then climbed over behind them. It looked like a pond. There was, in fact, no place muddier in the winter in Portland, Oregon, than West Delta Dog Park, and that was saying something.
The dogs ran ahead of her in the standing water, splashing it behind them, already matted with wet dirt and dead grass. Occasionally they turned to look back at her, their warm breath condensing in the January air.
Laura wiped her nose with the back of her hand. It was a terrible day to be out. Her rain pants were slick with rain, her trail runners were soaked. She'd spent the early morning sandbagging downtown and her back ached. The stress fracture in her foot stung. Stay off it for six weeks, the doctors had said. As if.
The cloud cover hung so low that the tops of the trees seemed to brush it.
She loved this.
The worst weather, body aching. Nothing could keep her inside. Biking. Running. Walking the dogs. She was out there every day, no matter what. Not like all those poseurs who came out in the summer in their REI sun shirts and ran along the esplanade with their iPods and swinging elbows. Where were they in the dead of winter? At the gym, that's where.
God, Laura hated those people.
Franklin glanced back at her, wagged his stubby tail, barked once, flattened his ears, and took off across the old road to the slough. It was their usual route. Penny, the puppy, stuck closer to Laura, zipping ahead ten feet and then circling back.
Laura heard it then. She had heard it all along, but it had faded to white noise, an ambient sound, like a jet passing overhead.
The Columbia Slough.
She knew it would be high. They'd had a ton of snow in December. Then it had warmed up and started to rain. That meant snowmelt from the mountains. Lots of it. The storm drains were backed up. The Willamette was near flood stage. The local news was live with it day and night; they were considering evacuating downtown. But that was the Willamette. Miles away.
As Laura rounded the corner, past the trees, where the old concrete pavilion sat sinking into the slough bank, she was aware of her mouth opening.
In the summer, the slough was still and flat, blanketed by algae so thick it looked solid enough to walk on. That slough was so stagnant that Laura was surprised anything could survive in it. That slough looked like a bucket of water that had been left on the back porch all summer.
This slough was alive. It moved like something angry and afraid, churning fast and high. Whitewater swept along the bank, pulling up debris and washing it downriver. Laura saw a branch get sucked into the water and lost sight of it in an instant as it was swallowed by the seething froth.
Franklin was up ahead, nosing along the old concrete pavilion at the slough's bank. He whined and gave her a look.
She called his name and slapped her thigh. "Let's get out of here," she said.
He turned to come to her. He'd been a rescue dog. Her husband had found him on the Internet. He'd been kept in some barn in Idaho, given little food and no human comfort. It had taken them years to teach him to trust people. And it filled Laura with pride to know that he had turned into such a good dog.
Even with the noise of the slough, he'd heard her. He'd turned to come.
And that's when it happened.
Did he slip? Did the slough rise up suddenly and take him? She didn't know.
He was looking right at her, and in a second he was gone.
It took her a moment to move. And then she snapped into action.
Her dog was not going to die. Not like this. She ran. She didn't think about the stress fracture. The sore back. The raging river. She ran to the edge of the bank, scanning the water for him, as Penny barked fiercely at her heels.
Her heart leapt. She saw him. A glimpse — a wet mound of fur struggling in froth. He was already moving down the river, but he was alive, his black nose just above water.
She had several options.
Maybe if Franklin hadn't been looking her in the eye when it happened she would have considered more of them. She would have called for help, or run alongside the river, or tied a rope around her waist.
She knew what happened to people who went into water after pets.
But Laura had seen something in Franklin's brown eyes. He'd looked right at her.
"Stay," she said to Penny.
And she plunged into the cold water after him.
Laura's first sensation, in the rushing dirty sludge, was of not being able to breathe. She'd been hit by a car once, on her bike. It was like that. Like having all the air forced out of you by an impact of steel and concrete. Laura forced herself to take a deep breath, filling her lungs, and she tried to orient herself. Her head was above water, her wet braid around her neck. She was already turned around, already ten feet away from Penny, fifteen, twenty. The roar of the slough was unrelenting. Twigs and branches snapped against Laura's face in the current, stinging her skin. Penny stood barking at the shore, pawing at the ground. Until Laura couldn't hear her anymore.
Where was Franklin?
Laura struggled to see him, but at water level all she could see was more water. She was fifty feet away from Penny now. Sixty. She couldn't see. She couldn't see the shore. Just the sky, dark clouds, above her.
Cold water survival. You lost heat swimming.
She took a deep breath and lifted her hands, already numb, foreign, like they belonged to someone else, and she spread her arms and bobbed on her back, and let the current take her.
The current had taken Franklin.
It would take her to him.
Cold water filled her ears. They ached. Her teeth chattered, the sound lost in the roar of the slough. Her clothes felt heavy, filled with water, dragging her down.
And then she heard him.
Laura rolled over and used the last of her strength to fight her way through the current toward the whimper. He was there, caught against the roots of a fallen tree, the water trapping him. He saw her and his ears perked up, and his paws paddled in vain toward her.
She got to him.
She didn't know how.
She got to him and wrapped her arms around his neck. He could have fought her. Animals did that. Panicked. But he didn't. He went limp. He went limp into her arms, and she was able to use the tree as leverage and push her heels into the silt at the bottom of the slough, and she managed to somehow inch them both to the muddy riverbank.
She collapsed beside him in the mud, still holding on to him, still not letting him go. Her heart was pounding. They were soaked. Franklin whined and licked her face.
They'd made it.
She rolled onto her back, almost giddy. They were alive. She'd like to see one of those fair-weather esplanade runners survive something like this.
Franklin shook the water from his mangy coat and Laura turned away, lifting a hand over her face. "Hey, boy," she said. "Easy."
He growled, his upper lip tightening. He was looking at something behind her.
"What?" she said.
Franklin's eyes narrowed, still focused over Laura's shoulder.
She shivered. Whether it was from cold or fear, she didn't know.
Laura turned around.
In the mud of the bank, partially exposed, was a human skeleton.CHAPTER 2
Susan Ward was singing along to "Smells Like Teen Spirit" when she almost hit the seagull.
Portland, Oregon, was an hour from the ocean. But when it was windy at the coast, the seagulls were blown inland.
Since the storms started two weeks ago, the city had been infested with them. They got into open Dumpsters, and shat on decks, and stood around on the sidewalk arguing in small groups like first-grade girls at recess. They were angry, bossy birds. But Susan figured she'd be angry, too, if she'd just been blown fifty miles.
Susan laid on her horn, and the gull gave her an accusatory look and flapped off into the rain. He was a western gull — white with slate wings and a yellow bill. They were big birds, knee-high, and built like bouncers, not the scrawny gulls of the Atlantic. Susan didn't know for sure he was male. It was just a theory. Something about the look he gave her.
She spotted Archie's unmarked police car on the last dry patch of asphalt in the parking lot and managed to squeeze her old Saab in beside it, then put the hood of her slicker up and stepped outside into the rain.
It was early afternoon, but it looked like evening. That's how it was in Portland in the winter. Permanent twilight.
The rain on her hood sounded like grease popping in a skillet. It made her crave bacon.
She looked down the hillside to where Oaks Park nestled up against the flood-swollen Willamette River.
Susan felt about parks the way she felt about nature in general. She liked knowing it existed, but didn't feel the need to partake personally. This was not a popular point of view in Portland. Portlanders, in general, took great pride in their parks, and felt compelled to visit them regularly, even in the dead of winter when it was dark and the grass had gone to mud and no one bothered to pick up their dog poop. There were wilderness parks, rose gardens, rhododendron gardens, Japanese gardens, classical Chinese gardens, skate parks, public plazas, parks with fountains, public art, food carts, tennis courts, swimming pools, hiking trails, monuments, and amphitheaters. There was even the world's smallest park, Mill Ends Park, which was roughly two feet by two feet. Susan had always found that last one sort of ridiculous.
Then there was Oaks Park. ("Where the Fun Never Stops!") It had been around for as long as anyone could remember, which is to say about a hundred years. A couple dozen rides, a roller-skating rink, carnival games, picnic grounds. Wholesome good times for the whole family, punctuated by a few brief periods when it was the go-to place for drugs and a van quickie.
A dead body had been found on the carousel.
Susan smiled. Sometimes this stuff just wrote itself.
She finished slogging down the hill and made her way through the pretty white wooden archway to the fairway.
The cops standing around the carousel looked miserable. Hunched over, their black rain ponchos lifting in the wind, they reminded Susan of crows loitering around a carcass.
All but Detective Archie Sheridan.
He was standing away from the others, wearing one of those coats with fur-trimmed hoods that you get at army surplus stores before expeditions to the Arctic.
It was fifty degrees. Practically tropical for January, but he had his hood up. She only knew it was Archie because of how he was holding himself perfectly still, one hand in his pocket, the other around a huge paper cup of coffee, just watching. And because he was alone.
He looked over and saw her and held up the coffee cup in a sort of absentminded wave. His hangdog face was as creased as ever, crooked nose, heavy lids, but he had color to his skin again, and his eyes had more life. A green scarf covered up the horizontal scar on his neck. His brown curls poked in odd angles around his forehead.
"Is it her?" Susan asked him.
"Looks like it," he said. "Robbins will issue an official ID from the ME's office."
Stephanie Towner had been reported missing two days before. The cops had found her car in the parking lot at the Bishop's Close, an estate garden along thirteen acres of high river bluffs on the west side. Portlanders liked to take peaceful walks there when they weren't crouching to take pictures of plants with their iPhones. The cops had found Towner's purse at the top of a slick of mud where it appeared someone had taken a header down the riverbank. You could blame Darwinism. Or you could blame the bottle of wine her husband had reported that she'd had before she left. Maybe a little of both.
"I thought she drowned," Susan said.
The corners of Archie's mouth went up slightly. It had taken Susan a year to recognize the expression as a smile. "I think she did," he said.
She followed his gaze to the carousel. It was housed in an octagonal-roofed pavilion that was open on all sides. Fifteen or twenty seagulls fought for space on the roof. They shifted their weight from one foot to another and squawked nervously. The iron fence that ringed the ride was open and Susan walked inside. One of the poncho-wearing cops put a hand out to stop her. "Not on the platform," he said, jerking his head toward the muddy footprints on the carousel's oak flooring.
She nodded and peered forward from the platform's edge. The corpse was positioned on an ostrich. The ostrich was beautiful, carved out of wood, brown with a red and gold saddle. His yellow legs stretched apart, as if frozen in a joyful skip. Stephanie Towner was posed as if riding the thing. But it wasn't convincing. She'd slumped down, her chin now pressed against the base of the ostrich's neck, her arms dangling on either side of its belly. Thankfully, her hair covered her face. Susan couldn't see well enough to make out many details. But it was clear that she'd been in the water. Or at least in mud.
Archie stepped up behind Susan. She could smell the coffee in his hand and the wet fur on his coat. The rain fell against the carousel roof. The seagulls squawked. "She was moved," he said. "There's mud and grass." He turned to face behind them and motioned across the park to the picnic area at the river's edge, where a chain-link fence lined the riverbank. "We found hair on the fence. Looks like the current washed her downstream and she got tangled up there. Then someone found her, got her over the fence, and dragged her here. Rain washed away any good footprints, but you can make out the drag marks in the mud."
Susan got out her damp notebook and wrote all that down.
Archie was throwing her a bone and she knew it. He'd done that a few times over the last six months. It wasn't his fault that she'd almost gotten herself killed a couple of times in his presence, but he didn't seem to know that. So he gave her a heads-up on the weird stuff. Scoops. She was sure everyone at the newspaper thought they were sleeping together.
"Who called it in?" she asked.
"Crew working on the rink," he said. "I think they're doing something to the floor."
Susan had grown up roller-skating at the Oaks Park Roller Rink. Everyone celebrated birthdays there. All the kids skated around under the disco ball until someone inevitably broke a bone and had to go to the emergency room. The rink was now the home of the Rose City Rollers roller derby team, a bunch of tattooed, big-thighed, badass girls in short-shorts. "It floats," she said. "The rink floor. It's on pontoons. When the park floods they detach it from the foundation."
Archie shrugged and took a sip of coffee. "That's clever. I guess."
Susan craned her head toward the roller rink, which was at the other end of the park, and tried to catch sight of the workers. "You think one of them ...?"
"Doesn't look like it," Archie said.
She turned back to the carousel. It was ringed by three rows of animals on ascending circular platforms. Jumping horses. Standing horses. A cat. A deer. A dragon. Zebras. Mules. Pigs.
"Why the ostrich?" she said. Whoever had put the body there had gone through a lot of trouble. It couldn't be easy getting a corpse over a fence. "It's on the inner circle. Why carry her all the way in there?"
"What do they call that color?" Susan heard Henry Sobol ask. He stepped beside Archie, grinning.
Susan blushed and touched her hair, which she had recently dyed raspberry. "You are stealthy, for a large person," she told him, tucking her hair back under the hood of her slicker.
Henry was wearing a watch cap over his shaved head, and his salt-and-pepper mustache glistened with rain. "Professional training," he said with a grin. His black motorcycle boots were caked with mud, probably from the picnic area where the body had originally washed up.
"Let me guess," Susan said. "You were a Navy SEAL."
"Doorman," he said. "I learned how to lurk."
Susan never knew when he was kidding.
But she didn't let on.
"I liked it purple," he said. "What did you call that color?"
"Plum Passion," she said. "It's Manic Panic. This one's called Deadly Nightshade."
"Whatever happened to Clairol?" Henry mused to Archie, and Susan saw Archie smile.
"Moving a body is a crime, right?" Susan asked.
Excerpted from The Night Season by Chelsea Cain. Copyright © 2011 Verite Inc.. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Chelsea Cain is the New York Times bestselling author of Evil at Heart, Sweetheart, and Heartsick. Both Heartsick and Sweetheart were listed in Stephen King's Top Ten Books of the Year in Entertainment Weekly. Chelsea lived the first few years of her life on an Iowa commune, then grew up in Bellingham, WA, where the infamous Green River killer was "the boogieman" of her youth. The true story of the Green River killer's capture was the inspiration for the story of Gretchen and Archie. Cain lives in Portland with her husband and daughter.
Chelsea Cain is the New York Times bestselling author of The Night Season, Evil at Heart, Sweetheart, and Heartsick. Both Heartsick and Sweetheart were listed in Stephen King’s Top Ten Books of the Year in Entertainment Weekly. Chelsea lived the first few years of her life on an Iowa commune, then grew up in Bellingham, WA, where the infamous Green River killer was “the boogieman” of her youth. The true story of the Green River killer’s capture was the inspiration for the story of Gretchen and Archie. Cain lives in Portland with her husband and daughter.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I cannot wait until the new ones come out. I love this author. Especially the ones about gretchen lowell. Shes evil! Hurry please!
Chelsea Cain has always been able to enrapture me with her characters. Their personalities, dialogue, and rationales. Here, it seems to lack a bunch of that. The lack of Gretchen Lowell in this is somewhat like Silence Of The Lambs without Hannibal Lecter. While there is a villain, it just doesn't compare. I felt there just wasn't enough to this book. Not enough Archie and Susan. While what was there I enjoyed, it just didn't live up to the previous books. The antagonist here was without any real charisma or interest. His motivation and especially his weapon of choice weren't interesting. I don't want it to seem that I didn't like this book, it just doesn't compare favorably to the previous three books. With all that I still have faith that the next time I read about Archie and Susan I will be pleased.
I was a little worried that a book without Gretchen would be lacking but that is not the case. She is still there due to the fact that Archie carries her with him always. Susan may have a little too much access to the police world but she is fun as a character. Over all this book kept my attention and continues the story line.
When it comes to series, you take a little break from the main villain sometimes. It can be a good thing or it can not. The case with the 4th book in the series, it was a nice change of pace. I did take a little break from it, not in the mood to read it. Then came back to it and liked it enough. I mean there's a little bit more Susan, with her reporter driven personality and ever changing hair dye with each book. I was okay with that. About time she got character development, well, more so in this one. Along with the other characters of course. Near the end it got intense though. Like the last 3 books in the series so far, it does have its share of creepy moments so there's that. The pace is still fast paced as ever. I don't know what else to say really. Good series so far.
Cephalopod chat rooms? I like this book, but not as much as the previous three, and for one very big reason. The “star” of these stories, Gretchen Lowell, the Beauty Killer, is relegated to background status while Archie and Susan are off investigating a new case. Not that the story isn’t interesting, or that the twists and turns aren’t there (in fact I really like the way the town was flooding through the whole narrative), it’s just that I miss Gretchen in this one. I’m not sure what that says about me, but this feels like more of a side story than a direct sequel to Evil at Heart. It’s worth reading though, It’s not like you were going to skip this one and go right to book five were you?
The Night Season - Not my Favorite of the Series To see a more in depth review, please visit my blog, Chorley Chronicals! The Night Season was not my favorite book in the Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell series, however, it wasn't a horrible book by any stretch of the imagination! Chelsea Cain quickly became my go-to author when I needed a really good head screwing and am craving a psychological thriller! She is phenomenal at writing totally off-the-wall plots that leaves you sitting back and wondering who the heck can come up with this stuff!! I've always been amazed at her detail and ability to leave you on the edge of your seat and keep your head shaking throughout the entire book, and The Night Season is no different! This is the first book of Cain's that the narrator, Christine Delaine has read, and I must admit that at first, she wasn't my favorite narrator. I think the change in narrator compared to what I had been used to in the first books of the series, was the first dramatic difference in me liking this book less than I did the others. I don't think that this narrator did a bad job, I just think that the original narrator, Carolyn McCormick, was such a fantastic fit for this series, that I had a hard time adjusting mid-series! I think it was just big shoes for Ms. Delaine to fill! The plot of this book wasn't as exciting to me as the others and I did find myself having a hard time following it throughout the first part of the book. Once I got through a little of the book, it did seem to pick up and I didn't have as hard of a time finishing it as I originally thought I was going to! Cain has created an awesome ensemble of characters in this series and I really enjoy following them throughout the different books and learning what happens to each character as they go. Each book is a character building book, and we get to really get up close and personal with Susan in The Night Season, as well as getting to learn more about Archie and his relationship with Gretchen! We also learn more about Archie's co-workers, Henry and Claire! Overall, this book does not deter me one bit from continuing on in this series, so I am very interested to see what else Chelsea Cain comes up with in Kill You Twice! As with every series that a person reads, I am sure there is one book or another that you do not favor, and this was my book of this series! I can't wait to see what else Cain has in store for her readers!!
Not as good as the first two but a thrill
Another good read. Intriguing and a nice change from her other books
Wonderful! Couldn't put the book down the whole time I was reading it!!!!!
i'd forgotten i'd already read it (had bought the hardcover) but read it again anyway, as it was that good. love the mystery and evil vs good stuff that plagues each of her stories. waiting for the next one.
If you picked this book up to read more on Gretchen, you won’t find much about her. She is mentioned but not until literally, the last pages of the book. Anyhow, I thought this was a nice break away from Gretchen (you can only drag her out for how many books?) and focuses on a much different serial killer. I really enjoyed reading about this new mystery killer, but the setting and the floods add to an already dark and sinister setting. The floods themselves do add more action and suspense (especially towards the end) so I thought this was a nice addition to an already dark setting. The pace of this plot was really good, and the short chapters makes the reading go much faster than usual. I like how there are no lulls in the plot. Although the sub plot with Susan Ward is not as interesting, it’s still related to the main storyline and provides more background information that is important to understanding the plot. There are quite a few moments of total suspense and thrills. The ending and the revealing of the killer had a lot of action sequences, and as mentioned before, the floods add more to the action and suspense. There was one particular moment in the book where I feared for a character (not going to reveal, am trying to keep this spoiler free!). The only thing I didn’t like about this book is the way the killer killed his victims. It’s a little far fetched and perhaps to some readers, they might find it silly. It’s different, and I have not read anything like this. Although I found it a little unbelievable, it’s still interesting and still worth reading. I’m glad there’s a break from Gretchen. For a moment I thought this Gretchen thing might drag and just might make the series go downhill. It may disappoint some readers, but this plot was well done, the characters are consistent, and I think it’s worth the read. With a tiny cliffhanger ending, I am curious to find out what happens next to Archie and Susan.
I thought that the lack of Gretchen in this book would make it less of a read than the last three in this series. Gretchen still lies behind the scenes in everything that is Archie. I am glad to see that she will be coming back as a major player in the next installment, but this story worked well with her more behind the scenes. It was more of an Archie story and where he is in his stage of recovery from his time with Gretchen. It was still a fast exciting read for me. LOVE THIS AUTHOR, LOVE THIS SERIES!!!!!!!!! SPD