I’ve enjoyed the previous books in this series and was eager to read A Cold White Sun: A Constable Molly Smith Mystery, the sixth book following the adventures of Constable Molly Smith in the fictional small town of Trafalgar, Canada, written by Vicki Delany. Although only a constable Molly aspires to someday be a detective like her mentor, John Winters. Together they have investigated numerous murders in this otherwise bucolic town.
Once again, an unexpected murder occurs in Trafalgar. The victim is a middle-aged high school teacher, Cathy Lindsay, who has gone for a daily walk with her dog, Spot. Leaving the makings of a special holiday week breakfast and her husband Gord, and their two children, Jocelyn and Bradley warm in their beds. Cathy follows the path she regularly travels. As she strolled along, she was thinking about a younger, fellow teacher, Mark Hamilton, who she had a crush on. Suddenly a shot breaks the peaceful silence of the snowy path and Cathy falls to the ground, dead.
Surprisingly there are multiple suspects. When the body is discovered by a couple who are hiking with their dog, they immediately call the police. Molly arrives on the scene first and calls for back-up and paramedics. Soon Detective Sargent John Winters, Adam Tocek and his search dog Norman, and an RCMP forensics expert join her. Delany does a great job of describing police procedures and how investigations are conducted. This is her forte.
As I said there are plenty of suspects in the murder. Of course, her husband is one of the people the police look at. When they learn that Cathy’s co-worker Mark Hamilton was more than a little annoyed by Cathy’s attentions, he too becomes a suspect. The Lindsay’s teen aged son Bradley is a town bad boy and known to the police, causing the police to take a second look at him as well.
Meanwhile, Detective Sargent Winter’s wife Eliza owns an art gallery in town. She has an employee named Margo who begins acting strangely. As her back story unfolded, I struggled to see the connection between this woman’s experiences and the murder. While the evidence piles up it is sometimes difficult to put things together.
I was disappointed in this book. It did not meet Delany’s usual pithy dialogue or neatly built plot. While the murder is eventually solved, the conclusion seems both rushed and weak. I can’t say I didn’t suspect the identity of the killer, but the reason for the crime and the manner in which he is exposed does not carry the same punch as Delany’s earlier books. I still give the book a solid four stars. The characters are always a delight, and as I stated previously, Delany’s understanding of police operations is spot on. I intend to continue reading the series and am eagerly preparing for Book Seven.
“It’s the end of March and Trafalgar, British Columbia, is preparing for the last influx of the seasonal skiers. Teachers, parents, and students are preparing to relax at home or head off on vacation. But for high school English teacher Cathy Lindsay, the week of relaxation doesn’t work out as planned. She’s gunned down by a sniper on a hiking trail, her small dog the only witness.
Cathy Lindsay is an unlikely candidate for a murderous ambush: she was a respected teacher, in an apparently solid marriage to an Internet developer, living a quiet life. Sergeant John Winters, with the help of young Constable Molly Smith, digs into the Lindsay marriage and friendships, searching for a motive, but one thought continually niggles at the back of his mind: is it possible this was not a random killing but a case of mistaken identity?”