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by P. J. Parrish
Pocket Books, April 2008
480 pages
6.99 GBP
ISBN: 184739132X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The two sisters who together write the Louis Kincaid series have written an "almost stand-alone." Almost, because Joe Frye, Louis's girl friend who is a Miami cop, is telling Louis a story. Louis knows very little about Joe's background and when he returns from a three week trip to Michigan, where he lived before moving to Florida, Joe decides she must fill him in on her life pre-Miami. Joe was introduced in a previous Kincaid book.

Joe moved from Ohio to attend college in Michigan. When she dropped out due to lack of funds, one of her criminal law instructors, who happened to be a county sheriff in rural Michigan, offered her a job. Joe would be the first woman officer in the department. In 1975 it was still highly unusually to have women officers, especially in small departments. Joe's mother had been a cop in Cleveland. That, however, was in another era and she was really a glorified meter maid.

When bones are found in the woods by two boys, the small department in Echo Bay is ultimately unprepared for the fallout. At first it is assumed that the bones belonged to a young woman who had disappeared several years ago and whose case was kept open by one officer who had become obsessed with the case. However, when it is determined that the bones are not those of just one person but two or three, the sheriff reluctantly calls in the state cops. As a rookie, Joe's opinions are usually discounted, but she mines the missing persons reports and she believes that a serial killer has been operating in their isolated part of the state. The events that followed change the lives of everyone in the department.

Joe is a realistic and interesting character. A young woman who shows determination and dedication to her job and to her department, she is a very strong protagonist. All of the characters in this novel are first rate, which will come as no surprise to fans of the Louis Kincaid books.

The sense of place and the harsh winter weather are major components in the story. The writers have given the readers the full experience of not only the brutally cold weather, but also the beauty of the area. In addition, they introduce us to Ojibwa Indian legends, also an important ingredient in the story. They do indeed make this place come alive in the mind of the readers; adding to the tension and pace of the suspense-filled plot. This is a story not soon forgotten. It is thought-provoking and will stay with the reader long after the book ends.

The authors plan to continue writing Joe Frye books, perhaps either alternating them with the Louis Kincaid series or bringing them out at the same time.

Reviewed by Lorraine Gelly, July 2007

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