Colleen Coble's fourth book in her Rock Harbor series brings us everything from embezzlement to black market babies and murder. Set in Michigan's Upper Peninsula on the shores of Lake Superior, CRY IN THE NIGHT flows like a swift river as it carries the reader on a journey of interesting relationships, criminal activity and faith-based heroics.
Bree Mathews, mother of eight-year old Davy, is part of the local search and rescue team. While looking for a missing social worker, Bree and her dog Samson discover an infant bundled under blankets in the snow-covered woods. Although there have been a couple of reports of missing babies from the nearby Ojibwa Indian reservation, none match the description of the baby she calls Olivia. As she cares for the mystery infant, Bree wonders if this is God's answer to her prayers for a second child.
Shortly after Olivia is found, Bree and her team find the remains of the missing social worker. The two discoveries set off an action-packed series of events during which locals report eerie screams coming from the woods, and Davy says he saw a mythical creature, known as a windigo, bury a baby in the snow. Bree fears her son may still be mourning the loss of his father, who died four years ago in a plane crash. Davy insists the windigo looked just like his daddy. Bree had grieved long and hard over the death of her husband but found she could love again. Her second husband, Kade, is a good man who shares her faith and deeply loves her and Davy. The family they have formed is precious to Bree, so why does she, too, begin catching glimpses of someone who looks like Rob --- someone with the same smile and scent of pipe tobacco? Could Rob be alive? And if so, what would be the ramifications to her marriage...and her life?
Twists and turns combine with interesting subplots to keep the reader wanting more and provide a nice level of unpredictability. Coble's characters are real people, full of passion, doubts, insecurities, strengths, faith and plenty of love. However, there are times when keeping track of all the names and relationships can be a challenge. This problem diminishes as the story progresses. It all comes wrapped up nicely in an edge-of-your seat conclusion that keeps the reader flipping pages at a quickening pace.
The marriage of Coble's research and talent for imagery make CRY IN THE NIGHT and her numerous other novels believable places to which readers can escape. The fictional town of Rock Harbor, with its endless woods and lakeshore setting, offers a taste of a quaint Finnish-American town. Rock Harbor's locals reside side-by-side with the Ojibwa Indians --- a nice multicultural background for what is already an intriguing story. Coble peppers her chapters with the scent of fresh-baked pulla at the bakery, a fun winter festival, ice volcanoes and ethnic foods conducive to the setting. From the Ojibwas we get the mystical windigo, which many residents, Finnish and Indian alike, believe responsible for the murders and kidnappings central to the story's theme.
CRY IN THE NIGHT follows three previous novels in the Rock Harbor series: WITHOUT A TRACE, BEYOND A DOUBT and INTO THE DEEP. Coble fans can look forward to her next book, LONESTAR SECRETS, coming out in July.
--- Reviewed by Susan Miura