Ice Shear is the first book in a new mystery series written by M. P. Cooley. It is this author's debut, and she has been nominated for at least 3 mystery awards for Best First Mystery, quite an accomplishment. I read Ice Shear for my current mystery group meeting, where we will be reporting on award nominated/winning books for 2014/15. I listened to it on audio with narration by Marguerite Gavin, who did a great job. I was quite pleased with Ice Shear and actually quite cold throughout. Let me tell you why.
Officer June Lyons works for the police department in Hopewell Falls, New York. Daughter of the retired chief of police, she and her family moved back to upstate New York when her husband, Kevin, was very ill with cancer. Both June and Kevin were FBI agents and went through training at Quantico together. They had been based in California with June working mostly with gang crime and Kevin part of the cyber crime division. After it became clear that Kevin would not recover, June moved back home so that she could care for Kevin and their small daughter, with her father's help. She became a regular police officer with the Hopewell Falls police. Kevin died and June has remained in her hometown, doing a job that she is overqualified for, but needing to be near family and provide stability for her 6-year-old.
On a routine night's patrol, June discovers a young woman impaled on an ice shear that had formed in the Mohawk River. It turns out the dead woman is the daughter of the local Congresswoman. Danielle had been a troubled young woman and she went to California to get away from her parents and attend college. She returned home, married to the son of the main enforcer of the Abominations, a violent motorcycle gang. Before June knows it, everything has gotten complicated. She's been an outsider with the local police and never quite fit in, but now, the FBI has come to assist in the murder investigation and the agent that arrives is someone both June and her husband knew well. More discoveries are made - there's a meth lab located in a prime spot and a plan to distribute drugs throughout the area. A biker gang rolls into town and the tension increases. Who killed Danielle? Who's involved in setting up the meth lab? Pressure is being put on all of them by important people. And then there is another murder.
I loved getting to know single mother, June (actually Juniper, but don't call her that), and her family and colleagues. She's still recovering from her husband's death and misses him dreadfully. She also misses the challenge of her FBI job, but feels that her daughter needs a regular life. She's not sure her coworkers trust her very much and she's also not sure she can trust the FBI. After all, she 'washed out', left, couldn't take it, regardless of what was going on in her personal life. A woman who is still grieving, but trying her best to move forward. This character has lots of room for growth.
The setting was vivid and described in detail, especially the winter weather. Cold, cold, cold. Brrr! The details of this town that is down on it's luck, factories shuttered, and job opportunities scarce seemed quite authentic. The crime solving was slower paced at first and then the action increased dramatically. This was an interesting police procedural and a fine debut. I'm looking forward to reading the second book in the series. Flame Out, which was recently published. I'll be reporting to my group that I highly recommend Ice Shear. The award nominations are well deserved.