Title: The Night Season
Author: Chelsea Cain
Publisher: Minotaur Books (Macmillan)
Pub. Date: March 1, 2011
This is the fourth book in the Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell series. Those who have read the first three, Heartsick, Sweetheart, and Evil at Heart know how sick and twisted (but addicting) this series is! My husband and I love this series and looked forward to the latest addition. Just as the pattern in the titles changed (no heart!), the focus of the story changed too, which left my husband and me a little perplexed. The first three books dealt with serial killer, Gretchen Lowell, who had a psychological grasp on Archie after almost killing him. Though he hates her, he has a twisted attraction to her at the same time. This was the first in the series that didn't involve Gretchen Lowell. Of course, her presence is always there to a certain degree in that her impact on Archie has affected him forever to the core of his being; but, physically, Gretchen does not appear in this book.
That being said, one of the main reasons series work is that readers enjoy the main characters and, even though Gretchen sits this one out, Archie and his journalist buddy, Susan, are endeared to readers. Archie is one of those detectives who's a little hardened and cynical because of his experiences. He turns to medications for escape whenever one of his Gretchen-induced anxieties encroaches upon him. Susan's the sweet girl whose hair is always a different color. She's managed to become involved in all the danger associated with Archie, and Archie has sort of a soft spot for her.
The Night Season starts with a short flashback to a natural disaster in 1948 that has a connection to the current day mystery not only because a similar natural disaster is about to happen. What appears to be a new serial killer is on the loose. This time one of Archie's team is even affected. The mystery in this fourth book does resemble elements of a campy horror movie at times. But I have to admit that made it fun and definitely different than a lot of the books I've read in this genre.
So, while this was a fun enough addition, I'm thinking most readers of this series will miss the inclusion of Gretchen. I'm curious to see if she comes back to the series and/or what affect she'll have on any more of the books. Was this just a break from the norm, or is the series moving in a new direction with Gretchen being merely the catalyst to the character development of Archie? For now I'll keep reading!