• Keely B

A snowbound village with a murder problem...

I've come to Ms Bauer a bit backwards, having read Snap and then Exit first - two of her most recent, wonderful pieces of character-writing let alone the magnificent plots.

And now I've read the second book in a series I didn't realise existed. It was a Bauer and sounded intriguing, definitely enough reason to dive in.

I love Belinda's observations and descriptions of place, they blend seamlessly for me and only ever add to the enjoyment of the book. This is full of the little idiosyncrasies of village life and seemingly incessant bad weather added into the mix makes the murder spree seem like it's in a west country bubble all of its own.

Marvel is a monstrous product of ego, downfall and years of big fish small pond-itis as the chief investigator while Jonas Holly, neighbourhood policeman whose future took a sharp u-turn as love and fate kept him bound to his local beat, is served up as the perfect punching bag.

The red herrings and numerous points of view narrative, including the killer's, keep the reader guessing and the twists and turns run from amusing to shocking to heart-breaking and back again.

As always with Bauer, there is a sprinkling of humour amongst the darkness. I think she's got even better at injecting laughs into her later novels, no matter how black the situation, but these characters remain memorable and mostly endearing here anyway.

I wish I had read Blacklands first to embed the names and history of some of the inhabitants into my memory as I did find I was guessing at some of the back story, however, that has only made me want to read the other books as soon as, so job done by author, I'd say.

Another totally satisfying read.

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