In Bitter Chill (Ward)

In Bitter Chill - Sarah Ward

Recommended on some book discussion board or other, this is one of the few debut crime novels I've read. Usually a writer will be well-established before they penetrate my fog of apathy about literary fashion! In this case, though, I'm very glad I invested the time.

A current case triggers the re-opening of a 1970s cold case. A second current case reinforces the need to go back to the old one. Unusually,  however, one of the victims of the cold case is still kicking and a major character in the present of the novel. Also somewhat unusually in my recent crime-novel-reading experience, the flashback POV is very sparingly used, and the reader stays pretty much in synch with the knowledge owned by the modern-day investigators. Those investigators are of two types: the police, trying to comprehend two recent deaths of older women, and Rachel, the survivor of the 1970 double kidnapping (in which the other victim is long missing and presumed dead.)

All right, I don't want this to be a spoiler review, so I'll just mention that not only is Rachel's profession of genealogist a very good piece of characterization, but it's highly germane to the eventual solution of the mystery behind the violent acts in the crimes past and present.

The detection team, featuring (at least for this case) a woman named Connie and a man named Sadler, who are almost certainly going to play a game of will-they-won't-they in sequels, didn't actually interest me all that much. But they are fairly well delineated, and in no way objectionable, so I'm sure they'll carry future novels just fine, especially if they're as well plotted as this one.

I plan to read more by Sarah Ward.