- first published in 1986, and now re-published by Kensington Publishing Company, 2015
- also available for Kindle on Amazon
- ISBN 978-0-7582-8981-0
- 278 pages
- source: my local library
As a family clinic administrator, Michele Layton has seen her share of suffering. But never anything like this. Not here in St. Cloud, Minnesota. A local activist has been found murdered, his body frozen like a statue and placed in a Winter Carnival ice sculpture display. Next a vicious hate crime puts a man in the ICU. And locked away in the Holy Rest mental ward, a deranged man of the cloth prays for more sinners to be punished—and waits for a sign from above. These seemingly random acts lead police chief Steve Radke to Michele, who could be the next pawn in a madman’s chess game of life and death, good versus evil…
Set in St. Cloud Minnesota February 1985. A small group of prominent citizens, who are also good friends, is putting together some winter games for the local community, to raise money for a centre for the gay and lesbian people. The committee includes the Mayor and his wife, the host of the local television station, the acting chief of police, and the manager of a family clinic, as well as representatives of GALA (the Gay and Lesbian community). But not everybody is comfortable with coming events, and the associated publicity makes these citizens easy targets.
The first to die is a member of the committee, a business man who has been active in his support for GALA. As yet another dies, and then another, with not even any idea what the murder weapon could be, the people of St. Cloud begin to stay at home and the WinterGame looks doomed to failure. Steve Radke, acting police chief, needs to hold the community together, and prevent mass hysteria.
I had some trouble in separating out the main characters at the beginning of the book although there was plenty of information, perhaps the problem was too much, about each of them. By about a third of the way through though I had them all sorted and I was able to appreciate the complexity of the plotting, and also the romance between two of the characters.
We know almost from the very beginning who is responsible for the murders, and it seemed just a matter of time before they were caught. It takes the police four murders before they develop a theory about how the victims have been selected, but they still don't know who the perpetrator is.
An interesting read.
My rating: 4.2
I've also read
3.5, PLUM PUDDING MURDER
Joanne Fluke is a well-established and quite prolific writer, publishing over 30 novels since 1980. See the list at Fantastic Fiction.