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by Mary Logue
Walker & Co., November 2001
256 pages
ISBN: 0802733719

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

One of the phenomena that inevitably occurs in the northern states is winter. Along about mid to late November, every year, the rivers lakes and streams begin to get cloudy and hard as ice forms. And every year in the newspapers one reads about foolish and unwary drivers who lose their cars and trucks because they drive too soon on too-thin ice, before it will support a man, much less a vehicle. Often, drinking too much at the local establishment in Fort Antoine gets people into a foolish mood and they'll be out there challenging Lake Pepin. Lake Pepin rarely loses.

Thanksgiving is coming and Sheriff's investigator Claire Watkins is settling in to the rhythms and relationships of small town life quite nicely. Her job is nowhere near as demanding as it was when she was a big-city detective. Still, there are a few tensions in the air. Her young daughter, Meg is having some trouble at school, her very good male friend Rick, is scheduled for Thanksgiving dinner but he's invited his mother. Claire has never met the woman, much less cooked an important meal for her. There's that troubled older lady on the other side of town who can't quite keep track of her belongings and the checks she seems to write. And there's Stephanie. The last time Claire encountered Stephanie in town she looked like someone had hammered her in the face pretty good. Accident, Stephanie has insisted but Claire is too good a detective to buy that for very long. And now a big winter storm is coming right at them.

Deftly, author Mary Logue demonstrates her skill as a writer and her mastery of this kind of crime fiction. She carefully controls all these threads and carried them through the small-town fabric that is the foundation of her novels. Never at a place of confusion, Logue keeps readers guessing about several plots and subplots, not all of which are criminal by any means. Although this novel carries the elements of the classic whodunit far into the depth of the book, it is the characters and their interactions that resonate and hold our attention. It is the subplots that one by one come to eminently satisfactory resolution over which we ultimately smile and nod with satisfaction when at last, Meg and Rick are able to spend a few relaxing minutes with each other. And still, we are left with a question or two.

Logue is creating a fine series of mystery novels, unpretentious, clear, logical and well-written with interesting characters. What more can a reader ask?

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, April 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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