Bad weather swirls around the coldest of cases

Heart of Ice, by P. J. Parrish. Pocket Books. 432 pages. $7.99.

By now, mystery readers are well aware of the many awards won by the writing sisters who publish their jointly written Louis Kincaid novels under the name of P. J. Parrish. One of the sisters, Kristy Montee, lives in Fort Lauderdale. The other, Kelly Nichols, lives in Michigan. Both states are used as settings for the adventures of Louis Kincaid, a black Florida private detective who hopes to resume his career as a policeman. Heart of Ice, as one might guess, brings Kincaid to northern Michigan – specifically to Mackinac Island. heart-of-ice-press

In the fall of 1990, two personal issues bring Kincaid to Michigan. First, he discovers that he is the father of a ten year old girl, Lily, who lives there. Secondly, he needs to reunite with girlfriend Joe Frye, who is working in Michigan as a law enforcement officer.  Exploring Mackinac Island with young Lily leads to an accident in an abandoned old lodge when Lily falls through rotting floorboards and onto a pile of bones.

Soon, Kincaid is assisting the local police chief, Jack Flowers, with the case. Flowers is a good man, but it seems as if he’s out of his depth with this case. Because of an initialed ring found at the site, a ring from a private school in the area, the remains are tentatively identified as those of a missing teenage girl from a prominent family who had disappeared some twenty-one years earlier. Julie Chapman never returned from Christmas break during her senior year. It looks like a murder case. Among the young woman’s bones are the bones of an unborn child.

The complications are many. The secrecy of the Chapman family makes the investigation difficult. The bad feeling between Kincaid and a higher-up police officer named Rasky as well as between Flowers and Rasky, causes additional tension. The background information about Julie Chapman’s boyfriend, the sexual abuse she suffered from her brother Ross, and the creepy skull collection of an autistic recluse (Julie’s skull was not found among the bones) who lives nearby pull the investigation in several directions.

The Sisters aka P. J. Parrish

The Sisters aka P. J. Parrish

Thinking at first that his contribution to the case will be extremely short-term, Kincaid soon needs to begin adjusting the time of his reunion with Joe Frye. Eventually, she travels to be with him and joins the investigation team. Author Parrish is extremely successful in giving a rounded picture of the pushes and pulls between these two characters. Kincaid’s need to find a deeper understanding about the future of their relationship is one more complication in the novel.

Then there is the weather. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the May 15, 2013 issue of the Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the May 16 Naples edition, click here:  Florida Weekly – Parrish

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