The Night Season (Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell Series #4)

The Night Season (Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell Series #4)

by Chelsea Cain


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312619763
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 03/01/2011
Series: Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell Series , #4
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 9.32(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Chelsea Cain’s first three novels featuring Archie Sheridan—Heartsick, Sweetheart, and Evil at Heart—have all been New York Times bestsellers. Also the author of Confessions of a Teen Sleuth, a parody based on the life of Nancy Drew, and several nonfiction titles, she was born in Iowa, raised in Bellingham, Washington, and now lives in Portland, Oregon, with her family.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Present day

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.

They died.

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.

Just float.

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.

NIGHT SEASON Copyright © 2011 by Chelsea Cain

Customer Reviews

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The Night Season 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 109 reviews.
Deborah Marchegiano More than 1 year ago
I cannot wait until the new ones come out. I love this author. Especially the ones about gretchen lowell. Shes evil! Hurry please!
Sean_From_OHIO More than 1 year ago
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.
Amanda Thompson More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Good read. I've enjoyed all of this series of books.
joannalongbourne on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This series is totally addicting; this book is way less gory and spends some time with the characters we have come to know over the series, Detective Archie Sheridan, intreprid girl reporter Susan Ward and pals. Gretchen Lowell is largely absent which was a nice change, although she is certainly a very compelling character.
saramllr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What drew me to this fantastic series was the allure of a truly frightening female serial killer named Gretchen Lowell. Although I liked "The Night Season," I kept wishing for Gretchen to break out of prison because it's just not the same without her. Maybe next book?
RidgewayGirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the fourth book in Chelsea Cain's gory series about a beautiful serial killer and the cop she caught and tortured. The first three books concerned themselves with the twisted relationship between the two of them, but with Gretchen safely in prison, Archie's been given time to heal and begin rebuilding his life without her.Portland is flooding. Heavy rainfall and snowmelt have combined to put much of downtown in danger and thousands of people are working to block the rising water. The water has also unearthed a skeleton and reporter Susan Ward uses its discovery to write an article on the long forgotten flood of 1948, which wiped out the town of Vanport. She's also covering a new story of a serial killer who disguises his kills as drownings, a not unusual event in a city whose river is running wild.This is the best of Cain's series so far. The gore level is a little lower than before, but that's no bad thing when it leaves her room to let her writing shine. Cain has created a wonderful character in Susan Ward, a woman who will eat Jolly Ranchers that have been stuck to a coffee table for weeks and allow a goat into her house when it's raining. The plot is almost unbearably suspenseful in places, the murder weapon should be silly, but is instead deeply creepy.
auntmarge64 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
WOW! This new thriller by the author of the Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell series grabs the reader and never lets go. Lowell is mentioned only in passing, and here Archie shows his potential to carry a series on his own. Reminiscent of Lucas Davenport in several ways, Archie leads a team of detectives on the very worst of cases, even as he continues to struggle to overcome the damage done when Gretchen Lowell kidnapped and tortured him. During a massive flood in Portland, Oregon, a serial killer using tiny but extremely lethal octopuses is killing people and dumping their bodies in the floodwaters. As the water rises, the banks of the Willamette River become a very dangerous place to be, whether as a civilian or a cop.Don't start this if you have anything else to do.
bookappeal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you're hoping for a graphic murder spree committed by or connected to the utterly frightening, but hypnotic, Gretchen Lowell, you're going to be disappointed. The Night Season is still a good read -in fact, it's an easier read than previous Archie/Gretchen books - but Gretchen is safely ensconced in prison. Cain introduces a different kind of serial killer in a fast-paced, tense plot. She also gives the reader plenty of damaged, heroic Archie and provides more insight into Susan, too.
BeckyJG on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Chelsea Cain is one smart cookie. She entered the thriller scene in 2007 with Heartsick, the delicious little story of a beautiful and brilliant lady serial killer--Gretchen Lowell, known as the Beauty Killer--and Archie Sheridan, the cop who pursues and is seduced by her. Cain followed up with Sweetheart in 2008 and Evil at Heart the following year, and both novels featured the twisted pas de deux of Gretchen Lowell and Archie Sheridan. She got better as a writer with each book, and, amazingly, managed to keep the relationship between her two antagonists fresh and inventive each time. But, though we readers might never get enough of Gretchen Lowell, Ms. Cain realized that it was time, at least for now, to put her on a back burner and give us something new.The Night Season opens with a brief prologue, a flashback to an historic flood in Portland, Oregon in 1948, in which an entire town was washed away. Cut to present day Portland, which is in the midst of its first truly bad storm of the century and is battening down all the hatches for the flooding to come. So of course, with everybody working so hard and getting so wet, it seems inevitable that bodies will start washing up around town. It's not long before Archie Sheridan realizes that the bodies being found are not simply victims of drowning, but rather, the work of a particularly inventive serial killer, whose weapon of choice is--but that would be telling.Throw in a couple of dramatic rescues of near-drownings by Archie (he does have a bit of a white knight complex); layer in richness of character with the increasingly important Susan Ward, girl reporter and potential love interest; tie in a missing kid; don't forget that historic flood at the beginning; then bring it all to a head with an incredibly tense climactic chase through downtown Portland at night when the river finally decides once and for all to overflow its banks: now you've got an entertainment that can't be beat.Oh, and I'm not giving any plot points away by telling you that The Night Season ends as Gretchen Lowell's sanity hearing begins...mwahaha.
titania86 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gretchen Lowell, the Beauty Killer, is finally safely locked up so Archie Sheridan can focus on other things. Their love-hate relationship is finally laid to rest and Archie has become much healthier. He no longer pops pills as if they were candy and religiously goes to his therapy sessions. There isn't long to relax because of the torrential, heavy rains causing the Willamette River to come to the cusp of flooding. As a result, drownings are becoming a more frequent occurence and the corpse of a man who died sixty years ago is found, which is possibly a link to a devastating flood that destroyed the city Vanport in 1968. The drownings, upon closer analysis, seem to be linked because of a strange mark found on the palm of each victim. Archie is on the case with quirky, nosy, indomitable Susan Ward. The increasingly bad weather and threatening flood make it harder for them to do their job and easier for the killer to disguise his actions. Can Susan and Archie catch the killer before they become victims themselves? When I found out that Gretchen Lowell wasn't going to be featured in The Night Season, I was a bit wary of being bored or having this one not measure up to the rest of the series. Her presence is so magnetic and her and Archie's relationship is as sick and twisted as they come. I found out that Chelsea Cain's writing speaks for itself and doesn't need Gretchen Lowell at all to be incredibly addictive. It still has the same fluidity and holds my interest until I'm staying up at all hours of the night just to find out what happens. Gretchen's absence also allowed Archie Sheridan and Susan Ward to develop without her corrupting influence. Archie stopped most of his self destructive behaviors and is as healthy as he can be with extensive liver damage, scars, and no spleen. Susan shows another side of herself when she puts the friends that she has made in the police force over her job getting the latest scoop to publish the paper. She also has a larger role in story than she has in the past. Together, they make an odd, yet strangely harmonious mystery-solving pair. The new killer is interesting enough with a very strange mode of murder, but the real star of The Night Season is the threatening flood. It makes simple, inane things very difficult and fills each scene with tension that builds until its climax at the end of the novel. It's almost as if the flood is a looming, silent character that is omnipresent and without human emotions. I really liked the prologue at the beginning of the novel that linked a horrific flood from the past to the current flood and unexpectedly tied the loose ends of the mystery together. It showed the mastery of Chelsea Cain's writing that the flood was not only a biproduct of the weather, but also created a tense ambience and was used as an integral part of the mystery.I enjoyed The Night Season immensely and I highly recommend it to fans of mysteries or books about serial killers. The story is a great mystery that has unexpected twists and turns. This book could be read as a stand alone, but it's better to read the rest of the series to better understand the relationships and motivations of the characters.
knittingmomof3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The previous books in the series, in my opinion, were better. However, I have high hopes for the next in the series, Kill You Twice. I recommend The Night Season to readers who enjoy psychological suspense.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is awesome and has plenty of twist and turns.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
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.
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PainFrame More than 1 year ago
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?
acorley84 More than 1 year ago
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!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not as good as the first two but a thrill
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another good read. Intriguing and a nice change from her other books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago