Author James Hayman has applied the skills he developed during a 20+ year career as an advertising executive to mystery writing. Madison Avenue’s loss is the mystery-lover’s gain. Like his main character, Detective Sergeant Michael McCabe, Hayman has transplanted himself to Portland, Maine from New York. His use of dialog and plot line are reminiscent of the TV drama Criminal Minds. As is customary on Criminal Minds, the lead investigator reaches out to colleagues for clues in piercing together the profile of the perpetrator.
In this case, McCabe is dealing with an “unsub” (unknown subject) who has surgically removed the heart from a teenage girl. Added to the grisly crime against the teen is the abduction of Lucinda Cassidy, who just happens to work for an ad agency. Typical of many popular mysteries, this one has a time factor that is key to a rescue opportunity. Each chapter featuring McCabe has a subheading with the date and time. Whenever the story switches to Lucinda, there’s a change in the type font. We are not advised of the date or time. This serves to heighten the suspense and draw the reader into the action.
Be ready for clever references to what surely must be Hayman’s favorite classic movies, The Third Man and The Day of the Jackal. The story is kinky in a normal sort of way. Hayman has applied his word use skills well, much as former corporate executive Lee Eisenberg did in his first book, Shoptimism: Why the American Consumer Will Keep on Buying No Matter What. Of course, that’s where the similarity ends. The characters at the center of McCabe’s life are: his artist girlfriend Kyra, his 13-year-old daughter Cassie, his ex-wife Sandy and Maggie Savage who is his cop partner. These characters and their interactions are compelling enough to merit a sequel.
Highly recommended. 4 stars with just enough plot twists and car chases to move the story along nicely in this very good first novel.