Review

The Fifth Season: A Novel of Suspense

by Don Bredes



I wish that Don Bredes wrote more frequently. It has been a number
of years since his excellent COLD COMFORT was published; the wait
between that and THE FIFTH SEASON, his new novel, was almost
excruciating. Still, I am reminded while reading THE FIFTH SEASON
that good, even wonderful, things come to those who wait, and who
wait with patience. Fair enough.

THE FIFTH SEASON heralds the return of Hector Bellevance, ensconced
in his job as the town constable of Tipton, Vermont, a post that at
times seems to carry more ceremony than actual authority.
Bellevance is adjusting to the aftermath of the events in COLD
COMFORT, which saw him leave his position as a Boston policeman
under a cloud, while his wife left him as well, confessing a
longstanding affair and leaving him in doubt of the paternity of
the child he thought was his. Bellevance's time since then has been
quietly but satisfyingly filled by going about his assigned law
enforcement duties, growing vegetables to sell at a farmer's market
to supplement his income, and dating Wilma Strong, the star
reporter for the local paper.

But this semi-idyllic existence is shattered when Marcel Boisvert,
an eccentric and contrary town father, apparently goes berserk when
served a peace order sworn out by his wife Shirley. The county
sheriff and town clerk are murdered in the aftermath and it is left
to Bellevance, with the aid of the county sheriff's department, to
find Boisvert and protect Shirley, who seems to be his ultimate
target. But Boisvert has seemingly vanished without a trace, and it
becomes the opinion of at least some of the investigators that
Bellevance, among a literal host of others, should be a suspect in
the killings.

Bredes's plotting in this regard, particularly in the final two
thirds of the book, is so brilliant that it might well bring tears
to your eyes. As law enforcement, including Bellevance, stumble
through the possibilities, the reader is left with the sensation
that the murderer could well be literally anyone. This creates a
level of tension that builds, slowly but surely and exquisitely,
throughout THE FIFTH SEASON, without strain or drain. There are
legitimate reasons to suspect everyone, and when all is ultimately
revealed and long simmering grudges and quiet feuds are revealed to
the light of day, the ultimate culprit is a plausible one as
well.

Bellevance may not be the smartest cop in fiction, that largest of
precincts, but he is certainly one of the most quietly likable and
believable. He makes mistakes --- at one point he tromps, albeit
unknowingly, in his stocking feet through a pool of blood, and
occasionally he is afflicted with tunnel vision --- but his innate
and deep sense of decency as well as his doggedness ultimately hold
him true. His romantic life is a bit of a mess --- but whose isn't?
--- and by the end of THE FIFTH SEASON it appears that more changes
are in store for him.

Hopefully we will not have to wait several years for Bredes's next
effort. If we do, however, it no doubt will be worth it. This is a
highly recommended work by an author who is woefully
under-appreciated.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 21, 2011

The Fifth Season: A Novel of Suspense
by Don Bredes

  • Publication Date: April 26, 2005
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense
  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press
  • ISBN-10: 0609606883
  • ISBN-13: 9780609606889