Murder claims victims on Crooked Lake no matter what the season
The residents of Crooked Lake are in the midst of an unusually bitter cold March when In the Chill of the Night ($17.95 paper / $9.95 Kindle / $8.45 Nook / $7.96 Sony Reader / $ 7.69 Kobi) opens. A bread delivery truck driver is making a pathetic attempt to hold up a local bar for cash to meet his alimony payments. A week later, the owner of a local marina finds his dead body under a boat tarp.
As Sherlock Holmes would have said, the game is afoot. Did the delivery driver commit suicide? Was he murdered? And if so, by whom? Thus begins a series of events which almost cost the sheriff her life. Her husband abandons his classes down in the city and rushes off to Crooked Lake to be by her side and to help solve this most puzzling of her cases.
Before the sheriff can identify potential suspects, she is confronted with another fatality. Unlike the first victim, whose reputation as a chronic loser is well known among local residents, the second victim is a complete stranger. Are these deaths simply a coincidence, or did the two men have a past connection that led to a double killing?
As the investigation unfolds, we learn that the delivery driver:
- killed a young boy by running him over with a power boat, and even though he was exonerated, the boy’s father continues to hold a grudge;
- was recently divorced from a woman who continues to harbor deep and abiding resentments;
- appears to have received one break after another from his employer, in spite of his troublesome behavior; and
- reportedly joined a local militia group, although the group’s leader denies even knowing him.
The sheriff’s search for a possible link between the two mysterious deaths eventually leads her to a middle school near Buffalo. Just as her investigation begins to focus on that school’s former baseball coach, she is gunned down in the line of duty. The action is thick and fast until the case closes, as Carol’s officers and her husband Kevin work overtime to track down the shooter and bring the killer to justice.
In the Chill of the Night gave me an opportunity to make it clear that sheriffs, and even my heroine Carol, are not invincible. It also allowed me to reintroduce an interesting character from an earlier book and smuggle into the plot an event from my own past when I was working my way through college as a bartender. Once again I hope that I have demonstrated that crime doesn’t pay, but this time it is a very close call.