Thursday, December 17, 2009


by K.C. Greenlief
Thomas Dunne Books,
January 2002, 295 pages
ISBN 0312278470

Murder among the pines and bucolic snowy life of central Wisconsin brings chills of a different kind.

This novel has just about everything you could ask for in a novel. The author has created a fascinating pair of detectives in sheriff Lark Swenson and Wisconsin State Bureau detective Lacey Smith. There’s a nice blend of early antagonism, questioning, interesting circumstances, and psychological dancing as the pair becomes better acquainted and more respectful of each other’s experience and talent.

The story begins with the discovery of human remains on a cold and snowy November day in middle Wisconsin. Ann Ranson’s dogs bring home a boot which, on closer examination, contains part of a human foot. This chilling discovery starts a chain of events that will keep readers reading long into the night. While the cold and snow creeps into the corners of the reader’s mind, the authorities in the story are forced to deal with weather and a perplexing find. Is the body evidence of a crime? Or is it accidental death, an individual who simply became lost in the woods?

When another female corpse turns up, the county sheriff, Lark Swenson decides he needs help and contacts the State police. Enter Lacey Smith. The weather, a huge factor during this deer hunting season, begins to close in even more, hampering the efforts to identify the victims and find the killer or killers.

Greenlief has surrounded her principal characters with a logical, carefully differentiated group of secondary characters who consistently act the way they are suppose to. The flow of the book is first-rate. The descriptions are often chilling and are very much to the point.

Cold Hunter’s Moon is that rare novel in which every word counts. Throughout, characters find themselves in logical if sometimes amusing situations which leavens the almost unremitting suspense just enough to give the pace rhythm. The surprising conclusion fits exactly into the fabric of the story and the final scenes leave just enough questions to leave us wanting more about the police duo. Excellent from start to finish, I expect more good reading from this author.

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