I was excited to see author Claire Stibbe had added a new crime thriller with Detectives Temeke and Malin Santiago to her impressive series. The title, Dead Cold, and the cover of the book assured me this would be another gripping story.
Stibbe is skilled at making the reader feel like he is right there, at the scene of the crime, in the office as the detectives pour over the details of the crimes, or struggling with the killer’s guilt or innocence in the head of the suspect. Stibbe holds nothing back in her descriptions of crime scenes and the procedures used to investigate them.
Dead Cold begins with Flynn McCann trapped in a house on fire. This first chapter sets the tone for the story, getting into McCann’s head and how he struggles to survive the blaze that engulfs his home. Stibbe’s descriptions of the fire are harrowing. With the arrival of Temeke, it becomes apparent there is more to this fire than just an accident. Tarian McCann and her neighbor, Quinn, who attempted to save her, are dead. Only Flynn was able to escape the blaze. As Temeke is led through the crime scene he quickly deduces from the odor of gasoline, the fire was deliberately set. Soon he and his partner Malin are investigating the fire, putting together clues from both the scene and the interviews they hold with Flynn and others who know the couple.
Stibbe’s ability to accurately follow the investigative techniques of police detectives is her forte. She sets out the clues and pursues the evidence skillfully. Temeke is an experienced investigator and Malin is quickly following his lead. Along with the respect they have for one another, there is an intimacy of friendship. In fact, at times it appears Malin has a crush on the lead detective. Meanwhile, Temeke wants to reunite with his wife Serena. He seems almost obsessed with the hope they can save their marriage.
Malin has had a mysterious texter stalking her throughout the series. Known by the handle, Wingman, he taunts her with clues and information about this investigation as he has in previous books. His observations often cause the young woman to see evidence from a new point of view.
The prime suspect in the fire and death of Tarian McCann is her husband Flynn. He is more than aware of this and reaches out to various people to help him; his ex-lover Rosie and his step-father “Jesky”. Taking off on an interstate search for his biological father, McCann has several unusual encounters with strangers; some good others, questionable.
Meanwhile, Malin Santiago is in a silent battle for recognition with Detective Suzi Cornwell. Malin develops rapport with Flynn McCann and the fugitive feels comfortable enough to communicate with the detective. This works in her favor with the Chief.
There are some interesting twists in this story. Some of the tale seems a little extraneous. McCann’s search for his father is almost an aside. The character that is most fascinating is the late Tarian McCann. As more of her personality was revealed I almost felt as though she deserved what she got. The question was, who was responsible for her death? Was Flynn the killer who finished her off or were one of the other actors guilty? Was Rosie jealous of the woman who lured Flynn away? Was Cliff, the dead woman’s lover/drug dealer the culprit? Could her father have had enough of her to end her life? As Stibbe leads us to the resolution the tension grows.
I would have liked less of Temeke’s desire to reunite with his wife, Serena, and more of the non-sexual intimacies between him and Malin. He seems completely oblivious to her “crush” and she seems to waver in her feelings. Sometimes the inner thoughts of protagonist Flynn seem to drag. However, the writing is mostly crisp. I hope this series continues. This book is my least favorite of the four, but I would still recommend it as a crime mystery worth reading.
Find out more about Claire at http://www.clairestibbe.com Twitter and Instagram @CMTStibbe
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