From the publisher: On the day after a massive blizzard, two policemen are called to an isolated farmhouse in the middle of a pristine, snow-blanketed field. Inside the lonely abode are two dead people. But there are no tracks in the snow leading either to or away from the house. What happened here? Is this a murder-suicide case? Or will it turn into something much more sinister?
On the first page, the reader knows instantly that (s)he is in for some gorgeous writing: “Wild gusts sculpted fields of fresh powder into rhythmic waves overnight, but as the storm passed the wind ceased. No trace of movement disturbed the distant view to the horizon, a seamless ocean of white lying perfectly still as though arrested at the moment of a tidal shift. Plows made a pass, yet the road remained slick with a glimmer of snow. The two cops fumbled for their sunglasses, neither for effect nor from any sense of police propriety, but the reflection off snow on a clear day under a cold snap in February created a brilliance more luminous than any summer’s noon.” The idyllic scene soon morphs into something much more sinister, for the two cops checking out the farmhouse soon add to the body count. The eponymous crimes are a series of serial killings which take place during or immediately after natural disasters, in this case a blizzard at an isolated farmhouse in northern Canada. The other serial aspect of those murders is the dismemberment of the victims’ ring fingers.
It soon appears that similar murders have taken place in various cities in the U.S., which we discover when an FBI agent investigating those murders seeks assistance from Emile Cinq-Mars, the retired Montreal police detective whose reputation precedes him. Emile’s adored and much younger wife, Sandra, 46 years old, encourages him to take on the investigation, in which she asks to be kept informed and involved, and since she’d recently told him she was contemplating leaving him, he is quick to agree to do so. The case soon involves them traveling to New Orleans, where the ante is raised considerably soon after their arrival, in a very personal way. As is the suspense level.
There is much here about police in different jurisdictions stepping on each other’s toes, figuratively and otherwise. The cops are very well-drawn characters, not the least of whom is Cinq-Mars, but also his former longtime partner, Bill Mathers, now a Sergeant-Detective; FBI Agent Rand Dreher; his female colleague, Vira Sivak; hotel security cop Everardo Flores; and the fascinating mixed-race New Orleans cop, Dupree. The fact that cops have been killed in this most recent murder, of course, makes this a very special case for all of them.
The denouement is quite unexpected, and things are wrapped up in very satisfactory fashion. This is the fourth appearance by Emile Cinq-Mars, and the first in a promised trilogy. It was my first encounter with this author, but it will certainly not be my last! Happily, the 2nd entry in the trilogy, “Seven Days Dead,” is due out on May 24, 2016, and it is next up for this reader. Highly recommended....Continua