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Saturday, April 13, 2024


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When NYPD detective Miles Jordan rents a cabin in the Catskills, his winter vacation plans include “pancakes, beer, and cross-country skiing,” not a homicide cold case. His arrival in a small mountain town, however, coincides with the 25th anniversary of the unsolved murder of Jesse Anne Kelly, a state trooper’s wife. At the request of the victim’s sister—and against the wishes of the victim’s husband, now the town’s police chief—Miles is reluctantly drawn into the case and the lives of those most affected. Miles isn’t the stereotypical supercop: He’s smart and good looking, but at age 38 he’s packing extra pounds, recovering from recent knee surgery, five years out from a mild heart attack, and driven by fierce empathy for victims of violent crime. (The fact that Miles is Black isn’t an issue in his interactions, although the 1950s vibe of a diner he visits does invite his reflection that he wouldn’t have been welcome to eat there during that era.) As tensions mount and the case builds to its deadly conclusion, the author offers up potential suspects with enough misdirection to keep readers second-guessing. Is the police chief’s refusal of Miles’ help due to grief, guilt, or both? How angry was Jesse’s former work colleague, fired from his job for sexual harassment? Then there’s the gifted artist, whose self-destructive descent into alcoholism began shortly after Jesse’s death. Realistic dialogue and clear, descriptive prose propel the narrative; in a derelict shack, broken drywall exposes “pink insulation like guts in an open wound.” The ever-present winter weather reflects the mood and setting, the frigid bleakness (“The icy wind carried the fragrance of cedar and howled like a pack of wolves”) lending poignant significance to the book’s title. This is the third novel in Ceron’s Miles Jordan Mystery Thriller series, following Death of the Saltwater Blonde (2022) and Death in the City of Bridges (2022).

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