The Chill of Night by James Hayman

Author: James Hayman
Publisher: William Morrow
Format: Paperback
Genre: Mystery | Suspense | Police Procedural


A frozen corpse. A missing witness. Strange voices that aren’t there.

One cold night, Lainie Goff, a glamorous young attorney on the fast track to a partnership at Portland’s top firm, is found frozen in the trunk of her BMW on the local fishing pier.

Detectives Mike McCabe and Maggie Savage quickly uncover a long list of suspects: Lainie’s boss, who was also her lover; an ex-priest who runs a shelter for runaway teens; an abusive stepfather who raped Lainie as a teen; and a creepy landlord who seems to know more than he should about her private life.

Still, there is no hard evidence until a mentally ill young woman who hears voices gives an island cop an eyewitness account he doesn’t take seriously. But when she too disappears, McCabe and Savage find themselves in a desperate race against time to stop a vicious killer before he rids himself of the only person who knows who he is.


If you like sensational openings that are written more to shock than anything, and have little or no relevancy to the story, then The Chill of Night just might be your kind of book. The characters and characterization are heavily weighted towards how everyone looks, with the lead, Mike McCabe, given a few odd quirks: like an eidetic memory. Not that he uses this within the plot other than to randomly quote odd facts in what passes for dialogue.

The story itself plods at a glacial pace, aided and abetted by lots of description about the weather conditions. And the so-called twists are less of a surprise due to the poor writing and scene setting.

It was also difficult to swallow that the ex-priest had anything to do with Lainie’s murder, and felt as contrived as the overly used character of a snooping pervert landlord. Lainie herself was not much better. I got the impression she was only there as a way for the author to offer up intimately described brutal sex-scenes, scenes that colour the story from beginning to end. Making this read more like a snuff-movie than a police procedural.

And secondary characters seem to pass in and out of scenes with little or anything to do but deliver a line, or two. Which brings me to McCabe’s supposed partner, Maggie Savage who, other than getting shot in the hip, had very little in the way of action or dialogue to flesh her out. A her presence more of a prop to McCabe than a character in and of her own right.

Far from a desperate race against time to find Lainie’s killer. I had already worked out who the murderer was, and why, from the minute that character was introduced. And the only person who came across with any depth was that of schizophrenic, Abby, who really should have been the centre of this mystery.

All rather clichéd, contrived, and unoriginal for my liking.

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