Thursday, October 3, 2013

DARKNESS FIRST by James Hayman

This is, surprisingly enough for me, an e-book.  E-readers have become so ubiquitous that even I have been pulled into the web; not that I like them, but too often that's the only way I can get a title I want.  So, my Kindle is becoming a constant companion.

Darkness First was well worth reading this way.  It is set in Machiasport, Maine, a major factor in my choosing this book.  My husband is from southern Maine and I lived there for several years.  Although this is set in northern Maine, we traveled and camped in various parts of the state so I know the area fairly well.  

I'm happy to report that only once was Hayman unable to resist the corny old jokes about people from Maine answering questions with absolute minimum effort, and their accent (ayuh, that too).  An old codger questioned on a boat at the dock is the stereotypical Downeaster.  On the other hand, our heroine's father, Sheriff Savage, is the real thing.  Look to him for what a real Maine man is like.  Hayman, who lives in Portland, gets it just right.

The story is one of Hayman's McCabe and Savage thrillers, part of the new Witness Imprint from HarperCollins.  

The sheriff's daughter has followed him into law enforcement, currently working in Portland at the Crimes Against People unit.  She grew up in Machiasport though and hasn't been home to see her dad in too long.  When she gets a middle-of-the-night call from him that her lifelong best friend, Dr. Emily Kaplan, has been run over by a car and is severely injured, Maggie Savage immediately heads north.  

The villain has not only injured Emily, he has gruesomely murdered a young woman.  Going by the alias Conor Riordan, he is one of the scariest bad guys I've come across in a long time.  He is a sexual pervert and killing is one outlet for him; this guy gets off on torturing women.  I spent a good deal of the book worrying myself silly for Maggie and Emily.  There is a credible alternate suspect, but it didn't take me long at all to figure out who Mr. Evil was.  As I've said before, I'm not really good at that normally.  It didn't detract from the story at all; getting the goods on him and cornering him were still to come.

As you read this book, you get a feeling for the various types of people who have been born in northern Maine or have settled there.  Hayman has obviously spent some time with these people who are among the most individualistic in the country.  I enjoyed his depiction of that part of that vast and vastly interesting part of our country.

Maggie's younger brother is involved in this story and he too is well drawn as a veteran of the Iraq war with PTSD.  Their loyalty to each other despite his mental problems is invaluable to the investigation and the denouement.  

I can't tell much more of the story without spoilers, so I will just recommend this book.  Even though there is violence and the villain may keep you up a night or two, the writing and the plot are excellent.  If you like character-driven thrillers, this is for you.

Source:  Publisher via Partners in Crime Book Tours


  1. This sounds like a book for me!! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this title. Great review!!

  2. Ebooks and I just don't get along that well. I'm sorry to say I probably won't read a book if it's only available electronically. I know, I'm a dinosaur.