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The Chill of Night
on 31 March 2012
The Chill of Night is the second of Hayman's novels to feature Detective Mike McCabe, and follows him as he tries to solve the mystery of a frozen body found dumped in a car parked in Portland's docks. After days of struggling for evidence, a witness is found - Abby Quinn, a young woman with a background of mental illness. However, her evidence is dismissed due to her medical history, and she disappears. As the various strands of the case come together, it becomes a race against time to find Abby before the killer does.
It is a solid novel, but unspectacular, not really pushing the boundaries of the genre. McCabe is likeable but not particularly original - a former NYPD detective who studied at film school, before leaving to join the force. His film background means that there are plenty of references to cinema - at times he defines the world in similarities to films and actors. It is also an enjoyable, and well-paced read, managing to maintain balance as the action moves from chases to calmer moments of police procedural, where witnesses are interviewed. Yet the plot seems to hang slightly on coincidence: although Portland is regularly touted throughout the book as a small community, the victim, witness and all of the suspects all know each other. This is surprising only because they come from very different walks of life and their jobs bear no relation. It becomes a stretch, and I felt that the ending was hard to believe because of this.
Another minor issue is that background information is given to introduce the characters for those who haven't read Hayman's previous novel, but it seems this is taken almost verbatim from his first novel, and the repetition of passages becomes irritating after reading The Cutting. McCabe's background and family history is fleshed out slightly more in this novel, but otherwise it does not tread new ground in this respect. The books have a rough chronology, with the events in The Cutting happening a year or so before Lainie Goff's murder, but readers need not pick up one book before the other - they work just as well as stand-alone novels.
Overall, The Chill of Night is an enjoyable thriller and a quick read, but there isn't much of a wow factor - it doesn't add anything new to the genre. Contrary to the previous reviewer, I thought that The Cutting was a lot stronger and had a more cohesive plot, and would recommend reading this first.