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by Sandra Brown
Simon and Schuster, August 2005
400 pages
ISBN: 0743245547

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Lilly and Dutch Burton's marriage is ending. The last thing they have to do is clear out the cabin that they just sold. Dutch is the Chief of Police of Cleary, North Carolina and he's still very much in love with Lilly, but Lilly has had it with Dutch and his temper. He is always telling her that he will change but he never does.

The couple decide to spend one more day together at the cabin while they clear it out and, of course, they end up arguing. Before Dutch leaves Lilly alone, he tells her that she'd better leave soon since a blizzard is forecasted.

Meanwhile, a murderer is loose, killing women in and around Cleary. After each death, a ribbon is left with the dead woman. Dutch knows he has to find the killer in order to keep his job but he's having problems. The murdered women don't seem to have anything in common and there's little else to investigate.

Back at the cabin Lilly is exhausted after the argument with Dutch and falls asleep only to be awakened by the sound of the wind howling. She gets to her car and tries to drive away but only goes a short distance before she literally runs into freelance writer Ben Tierney. The car is damaged and Ben cannot walk very far in the blizzard so they end up back in the cabin to wait the storm out.

Lilly is far from afraid of Ben, they had met a few months earlier and were immediately attracted to each other. Also, it occurs to Lilly that since there is a madman killing women in the vicinity, having Ben around would be good protection. That is until she looks through his knapsack and finds the same kind of ribbon that the newspapers said the killer leaves by the dead women.

CHILL FACTOR by Sandra Brown is filled with all the right ingredients for a good thriller. There's the beautiful woman and handsome man forced to stay with each other due to things out of their control. There's even a bit of romance until the woman suspects that this new man in her life might be a gruesome murderer. Of course he denies it even though there is quite a bit of evidence proving otherwise.

There's also a knight in shinning armor, in this case Lilly's soon to be ex, Dutch, trying to get up to the cabin to save Lilly because he knows that Ben is with her. Is Dutch jealous or does he suspect that Ben is the murderer? Or is it a little bit of both?

Ms Brown also gives us a town full of strange people who know everything about their neighbors and about the investigation of Ben Tierney. Nothing is a secret in Cleary with the gossipy drugstore owner whose shop is the town's meeting place.

Then there's the weather. There's nothing as much fun in a mystery as a good old-fashioned blizzard forcing characters to stay where they are, locked together unable to do anything to get help. The FBI is also snowed in the town, and even those agents aren't able to do much of anything but slip and slide on the ice.

If you're a fan of Ms Brown I definitely think you should pick CHILL FACTOR up. It's a real page-turner and the author gives the reader her usual dose of thriller mixed in with romance. Although the readers will find the mystery fairly basic and they will be able to figure out all the plot twists that are in the story way before the last page of the book, author Sandra Brown does deliver an enjoyable story. As long as you don't mind figuring out the ending early, CHILL FACTOR is a gratifying way to spend a weekend.

Reviewed by Sharon Katz, July 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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