Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Dead on Ice (A Lovers in Crime Mystery), by Lauren Carr

Acorn Book Services, ISBN 9780985726737, September 2012

This is the third mystery involving Hancock County (WV) Prosecuting Attorney Joshua Thornton and Pennsylvania State Police homicide detective Cameron Gates, though the first that I've found and read. They are also a couple. When crime spills over the border between their states, sometimes that helps them work together, and sometimes it creates an uncomfortable conflict of interest. They're both widowed; Cameron's husband, also a PA state cop, was killed in a traffic stop gone bad, and Joshua's wife died after many years of marriage and several children, only the youngest of whom, Donny, is still at home.

When church and family members are cleaning out the house of Joshua's cousin, a criminal defense attorney, on the Pennsylvania side of the border, Cameron finds a bomb in the basement--just in time to get the house cleared. And when they go through the debris after the explosion, they find, scorched but essentially undamaged, an old freezer, with a body in it.

The body is initially identified as Cherry Pickens, a porn star who disappeared sometime in 1985. Further investigation reveals that she was originally Cheryl Smith, a local girl who disappeared a few years prior to that, after the murder of another local girl.

And from this point, things get very, very complicated. The body of the murdered girl, Angie Sullivan, was found on the West Virginia side of the border. Friends, relatives, and suspects of everyone involved in this local, small town murder mystery live on both sides of the border. The search for answers to the known mysteries--who really killed Angie Sullivan, and who killed Cheryl Smith?--uncovers more and more secrets.  Old scandals, secret and not-so-secret extra-marital affairs, complicated relationships among people who appear to be casual friends or purely professional business contacts.

Then there are such difficult personal issues for Cameron and Joshua. Will her cat Irving learn to tolerate Joshua? How will Donny react as his father's new relationship grows more serious?

This is a short, engaging mystery with likable, interesting characters. I'll be looking for previous and future entries in the series.

Recommended.

Book trailer: