I was drawn to this series because the constable in the books is a woman. I found the idea of a female constable in British Columbia interesting and I wondered if author Vicki Delany would make her a tough woman and a nice girl determined to make it in a “man’s world”. Let me immediately set your mind at ease. Constable Molly (“Moonlight”) Smith is a gutsy law enforcement professional and also an appealing young woman.
The action in In the Shadow of the Glacier takes place in the small fictional town of Trafalgar, British Columbia. Delany wastes no time getting the story rolling. The murder of new townsman Reginald Montgomery takes place in the first chapter. Molly discovers his body in an alley behind a local bakery and a restaurant. Although she is new to her job she is assigned to partner with Sergeant John Winters, an experienced homicide detective from Vancouver. In many ways, they are both outsiders; Molly is new to the force and Winters is new to Trafalgar. With Winters usual partner going out of town, Molly is assigned to work with Winters because she knows the town and its residents. Needless to say, the expert detective is not thrilled with the arrangement.
Trafalgar is a town filled with controversy. Part of that conflict comes from Montgomery’s plans to build a resort that local environmentalists fear will compromise the area. He is also opposed to the building of a Commemorative Peace Garden, honoring Vietnam War draft dodgers. The disagreement extends to the community at large. Montgomery was a prime target for many people in the town. When his wife is informed of his death she is seemingly unaffected by the news.
For Molly, the town’s conflict even reaches her home. Her mother, Lucky, is a central part of the group pushing for the development of the peace garden. Molly’s father was a Viet Nam draft dodger, but unlike her mother, he has left his days of protesting behind. As the tensions in the town intensify investigating the murder becomes more difficult. Complicating an already incendiary situation, a large television organization sends a reporter noted for controversial reporting to get the story. The Fox style reporter enjoys eliciting violent reactions from people while injecting himself into the story.
My only gripe with the story is the ending. I was disappointed at the choice of the killer. While Delany does a nice job of linking all the little mysteries together, the murderer is simply too unlikely. I’m not one for bringing an obscure character into the limelight for a final hurrah. If not for this flaw I would have given the book a solid five stars. Let me add I plan to read more of Constable Molly Smith’s adventures. I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a light mystery with little violence or sex.