An ambitious plot drives this thriller, beginning with the discovery of a murdered womanís body and ending with a harrowing chase to a cliff overhanging the pounding waves of the Maine Coast. Much like an episode of TVís Law and Order, The Chill of Night is as much police procedural as nefarious plot hidden behind a dangerous killerís facade.
The murder victim, Lorraine Goff, was a young attorney hoping for promotion in a prestigious law firm. Her frozen limbs have been bent to fit the confines of the trunk of her car, a Biblical verse inserted into her mouth. The one possible witness bears the taint of mental illness, rendering Abby Quinnís testimony less reliable in the legal system. Now Abby is a target for Lainie Goffís killer.
The cast of characters in this novel is large, providing more than enough work for Detective Sergeant Mike McCabe, who is grappling with a complex case and the disturbing reality that the dead woman reminds him of his beautiful but unfaithful ex-wife. His current love, Kyra, agrees to temporarily remain at her own place, leaving McCabe able to focus full-time on the motive for the murder and a plethora of suspects, working closely with Detective Maggie Savage of Portlandís Crimes Against People Unit.
Lainie enjoyed an active social life, a clandestine affair with one of the partners at the firm, and a devotion to a local charitable enterprise: Sanctuary House, a place for abused and homeless teens. Moving between Portland and the more remote Hartís Island, where Abby has been living with her mother, McCabe seems to always be one step behind the killer, a situation that puts Abby Quinn in jeopardy.
Rigorously following procedure to ensure an airtight case for the prosecutor, McCabe and Savage are sure they have the murderer in sight, only to be blindsided by other problems. While the dialog often becomes the vehicle for moving the plot along, fewer unimportant characters might have made the story less confusing. Even so, Hayman manages to give away his culprit prematurely, the killer literally hiding in plain sight until the final violent confrontation. Entertaining, yes, but a little disappointing as well.