In Winter's Grip
This is the first adult mystery from Brenda Chapman, who has three popular YA mysteries under her belt. And what a debut! In Winter's Grip lives up to its name and holds the readers in its grip all the way through.
Maja Cleary, a plastic surgeon who lives in Ottawa with her husband, travels back to her hometown in Duved Cove, Minnesota for her father's funeral. Going back is a hard thing to do because of the years of bad memories of her abusive father and a young love affair she ran away from. Maja has many unresolved issues that confront her when she returns but she's also determined to protect her younger brother, Jonas from being charged with her father's murder.
The plot has lots of twists and turns, becoming a maze of secrets and past transgressions just bursting to be exposed. Her father touched many lives, and none of it was good, however it was all done in secret, so his image around town remained that of a former police officer, who was held in high regard. As Maja uncovers various aspects of her father's sordid past, Jonas appears to have even more motives to have done the deed, and then...another body is found; the list of suspects increases. And, as Maja nears the truth, the killer gets closer to her.
Getting at the truth means also sorting out her own life, and Maja Cleary is gutsy enough to do just that. These are characters we care about and join with Maja in searching for the truth. There are many layers to be exposed, and the suspense drives the reader to keep reading right to the end.
This is a beautifully written book with landscapes painted on the pages. Brenda Chapman has given the reader, mystery or mainstream, a complex, most satisfying read.
Join Brenda and fellow mystery author Barbara Fradkin tonight for their double launch (Fradkin's 8th Inspector Green novel, Beautiful Lie the Dead) at the Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington St., Ottawa at 7:00 p.m. Books will be available for purchase by Books on Beechwood, the authors will be happy to sign your copies, and schmooze. And, there'll be refreshments.
Linda Wiken/Erika Chase