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HEART OF ICE
by Liz Wiehl and April Henry
Thomas Nelson, April 2011
328 pages
$25.99
ISBN: 159554707X


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Elizabeth Avery appears to have it all, to reporter Cassidy Shaw at least. The new boot camp instructor at her local gym has befriended her, and Cassidy has been singing her praises to the Triple Threat club (Shaw, Federal Prosecutor Allison Pierce, and FBI Agent Nicole Hedges). However, Elizabeth is not who she says she is, and the mystery behind this apparently successful woman begins to unravel as the three women go to work on local crime stories.

HEART OF ICE is the latest in the series by authors Lis Wiehl and April Henry, which follows the friendship and work interactions of these women, each taking on a different side of the Elizabeth Avery story. Avery begins to show her darker side when jealousy of her boyfriend's ex-wife and son override his attention on her. Avery is determined to get them out of the way so that he can once again focus only on their relationship.

The plot begins to become uncovered when a young intern at Cassidy Shaw's television station (of whom Shaw is jealous) goes on a undercover story without cluing anyone in on her investigation. She disappears, and the Triple Threat group is soon on the scene eking out clues.

Woven throughout the story are two sub-stories, one personal and one national. The first centers on FBI Agent Nicole Hedges' breast cancer. A single mom who has kept her life private because of her career, she is forced to confront her own mortality and open herself up and reveal her secret to her friends. This part of the book is exceptionally well done, with no sugar coating but instead real compassion from her friends.

The second story embedded in HEART OF ICE is the story of the Craig's List killer, which is very thinly veiled and perhaps less successfully introduced into the overall arc of the story here. In this mystery, the Wanted Ad killer adds little to the story, except to flush out the theme of the secrets that women hide from themselves regarding their relationships. This has parallels with the breast cancer theme and the insecurities raised by Shaw as she compares herself to the (anything but) perfect Elizabeth Avery. Do women live with too many secrets? Delude themselves with ideas of finding the "perfect" boyfriend, body, career, life? Wiehl and Henry appear to be raising these issues all wrapped in an intriguing mystery that centers on manipulation and delusion.

HEART OF ICE is a satisfying mystery with enough action and emotional backstory to keep readers interested. Ironically the greatest strength of the book really comes from Nicole's latest challenge (dealing with her own failing body and learning to lean on others) rather than the other two murder mysteries in the novel.

Christine Zibas is a freelance writer and former director of publications for a Chicago nonprofit.

Reviewed by Christine Zibas, April 2011

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