I recently offered to read and review The Rainy Day Killer by Canadian writer, Michael J. McCann as part of the author’s blog tour. You’ll notice that I can’t resist mentioning his nationality – I always enjoy discovering books by my fellow countrymen.
This is how the publisher, Plaid Raccoon Press, describes the book: “A man in a business suit offers the protection of his umbrella to an unsuspecting woman, and several days later she turns up dead on a river bank, raped and strangled. The terrifying serial killer known in the press as the Rainy Day Killer is now hunting new victims in the city of Glendale … whenever it rains.
Homicide Lieutenant Hank Donaghue leads the investigation as the killer begins to communicate directly to him through phone calls and grisly packages containing body parts of his victims. Assisted by FBI profiler Ed Griffin, Donaghue and Detective Karen Stainer pursue an elusive predator who leaves no physical evidence behind.
The timing couldn’t be worse, however, as Karen Stainer’s attention is divided between the investigation and preparations for her upcoming wedding. Distracted and uncertain about her future, Stainer is furious when she learns that the Rainy Day Killer has followed her to Virginia, where the wedding will take place, and that he intends to make her his next victim!”
All the crime novels that I’ve read recently were cosy mysteries. This thriller is a change for me: it’s much darker. The gripping plot never loses its tension and it picked up pace as it neared the climax. I got engrossed in the story and found myself anxious to get back to the book whenever I had to put it down; I had to know what happened next.
The story centres on the hunt for a killer and the law enforcement officers involved in it. The reader doesn’t ‘meet’ the killer until near the end of the book. He tantalises the reader and the police with clues that I couldn’t put together to guess who he might be until the final pages of the book. Even then I didn’t know exactly how he had got access to his last intended victim until the summary in the final scene. It didn’t bother me though as I became so engrossed in the chase and the characters’ lives that I was willing to watch events unfold without second guessing the outcome. I also enjoyed the subplot about the power games within the police department as they endeavoured to appoint a new captain for the homicide department.
There are some graphic descriptions of violent acts such as mutilation of corpses in the book which is to be expected in this genre. I was impressed that the author gave enough detail to create fear and tension in the reader but did not overdo it for the sake of sensationalism or voyeurism.
As I’ve said, this story is about the hunt for a killer and the people involved in it. I found the interaction and sometimes tension between the characters as interesting as the actual case. The main characters, Lieutenant Hank Donaghue and detective Karen Stainer, each have distinct personalities. Donaghue is a somewhat traditional level headed cop who focusses on the job and isn’t interested in the organisational politics around him and Karen Stainer is a gutsy, singleminded cop who lives for her job. At times I found her fervour too extreme to be believable but I did love the scene where she runs out of a shop in her bra to chase the suspect.
I liked the fact that the law enforcement officers weren’t all stereotypical rednecks. Many of them had a tolerance for alternative lifestyles. Whether this is true to life or not I have no idea but I thought it made the characters more interesting because they weren’t completely what I expected.
Although the killer’s victims had minor roles in the story I liked the way the author brought them to life. The police interviews with their friends and families made them real, not just part of the body count. This was especially true of the musician abducted at the shopping mall. When the detectives search her apartment they see a picture of a marginalised person with no prospects but a different picture emerges of a talented, sensitive musician striving to succeed as Donaghue talks to her friend and fellow busker. During this conversation the author skilfully makes the reader care about the victim.
The story is set mostly in Glendale, Washington, DC but it could have been any city. It was only a backdrop to the action. I was more interested in a couple of the other settings. Although there is only a passing reference to Quantico I enjoyed the fleeting glimpse of it as it’s a place I’ve heard of but knew nothing about. I also enjoyed the atmosphere at the Texan barbecue wedding reception in Virginia.
I found The Rainy Day Killer a gripping read from beginning to end. I liked the characters and was grabbed by the plot. I will happily read other books in this series as I think the characters are worth re-visiting and I can wholeheartedly recommend this book.
Readers can learn more about the author at his website and Goodreads page. You can also check out his Mystery and Paranormal blogs. For more stops on this blog tour check the schedule here.
About Michael J. McCann: Michael was born and raised in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. He earned a B.A. (Hons.) in English from Trent University and an M.A. in English from Queen’s University. He has worked as an editor and a project and training consultant and manager with the federal government. He is an author of crime fiction and supernatural thrillers. His Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel series includes Blood Passage, Marcie’s Murder, The Fregoli Delusion, and The Rainy Day Killer. He is also the author of the supernatural thriller The Ghost Man and is currently working on another supernatural novel.
Dianne, I like how you pointed how Michael took great pains to humanize the killer’s victims. They weren’t just nameless faces. I’m glad you appreciated the level of detail that Michael brings to the page. Thanks for the great review!
From one fellow Canadian to another, Dianne, thanks so much for taking the time to read and review my novel. It’s very gratifying that you understood my intentions so well, and put your finger on aspects of the story and characters that are so important to me. All the best, Mike
Dear Ms. Ascroft,
It’s always gratifying when a reviewer understands that police procedurals are a sub-genre distinct from cosy mysteries and Christie-type whodunits. It’s even more gratifying to find a reviewer who understands that The Rainy Day Killer is not about the “motivation” and background of the serial killer, but about his victimology and the police forces that join to defeat him. Thanks so much for such a perceptive review.
The Plaid Raccoon Press
It was a pleasure to review your book, Michael. I will be checking out some of your other titles now that I’ve had a taste of your writing – and recommending them to other readers. Good luck with the rest of the blog tour.