Saturday, October 1, 2016

A Deadly Thaw: Sarah Ward

The dead body of a man is found in an abandoned mortuary, located in an overgrown area outside of Bampton, Derbyshire. DI Francis Sadler is one of the first on the scene and he recognizes the body. The deceased was a childhood acquaintance; unfortunately he was supposedly murdered twelve years before. His wife, Lena, confessed to the crime and served a ten year prison sentence.

Thus begins an unusual case which puts stress on all involved.  Because the newly discovered body exposes mistaken identification in an old case, there will inevitably be a further investigation into whether the proper procedures were followed at that time. As the inquiry proceeds, it becomes obvious that there is a larger department-wide investigation going on... which only top officials are privy to. The plot is very complex but not at the expense of the reader's enjoyment.

The police detectives (Sadler, DC Connie Childs and her partner, DS Damian Palmer) are a significant presence in the story, but other characters related to the crime also play a big role. Lena, the murdered man's wife, and her sister Kat, a psychotherapist, are questioned about both cases. Kat is shocked by the revelation of years of secrets in her family. Connections are made to other members of the community.

The story does address some social issues, which I will not describe here because they are gradually revealed throughout the story and integral to the plot. This part was well done and the issues do not overwhelm the story.

I was impressed with the structure of this novel. I like the short chapters; they keep the story moving. There are flashbacks interspersed throughout the story, taking the reader back to key points in the time when the first crime occurred and events that led up to it.  The story is seen from multiple points of view, primarily Kat's, and the detectives. This approach to storytelling works well for me but would not be to everyone's taste.

A Deadly Thaw is Sarah Ward's second novel and the second in the series featuring Francis Sadler and his team. It was released in the UK on September 1, 2016, and in the US on September 27, 2016.

In summary, my thoughts on this book agree with my assessment of the first book in the series, In Bitter Chill. This is a good police procedural, showing not only the investigative techniques but also the interactions between the members of the team and the upper level policemen, and how this can enhance or hamper their efforts. The story of the people affected by the crime is also a strong element. And, more important, the writing is very good, keeping me interested throughout. I look forward to more in this series.


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Publisher:   Minotaur Books, 2016 (orig. pub. in UK)
Length:       375 pages
Format:      Hardcover
Setting:      Derbyshire, UK
Genre:       Police procedural
Source:      Provided by the publisher for review



14 comments:

  1. So glad you enjoyed this so well, Tracy! Isn't Sarah Ward talented!? I'm looking forward to her next novel, too.

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    1. Margot, I do agree that Sarah Ward is a talented writer. This book falls right in the category of my favorite kind of mysteries, police procedurals, and she does very well with that sub-genre.

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  2. Great review Tracy. This is a 2nd comment. I'm not sure what happened to the 1st one. -Keishon

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    1. Thanks, Keishon. Sorry about the problems with commenting. I sometimes have problems with commenting on Wordpress sites, which is why I go by tracybham at Wordpress sites and TracyK at blogger sites. I also lost my blog list gadget a few days ago and I am currently repopulating it.

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    2. That's weird, my blog list disappeared as well. I've been trying to reinstate everything but haven't found the same format as before

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    3. Col, at Killer books, J. Kingston Pierce said he lost his list and Blogger is trying to re-instate it.

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  3. Replies
    1. Thanks, Col. I don't read a lot of current mysteries as soon as they come out, but this is a series I plan to keep up with. I was happy to get a copy from the publisher but I would have bought it as soon as it was available anyway.

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  4. Been meaning to read the first one since it came out. Maybe this will spur me on.

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    1. It is a good series, Patti. I hope you do get a chance to read it.

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  5. Tracy, I read IN BITTER CHILL and liked it very much. I now hope to read Sarah's second novel by end of this year. The flashbacks in her debut did not wane my interest and, in fact, kept me hooked until the end. I'm curious to learn more about Sadler and Childs.

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    1. Prashant, I know you will enjoy this 2nd book by Sarah. It was a very fast read for me because of the way she kept me pulled into the story. I stayed up late one night to finish the book.

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  6. I'm really looking forward to reading this - I went to the launch in London and can't believe I haven't read it yet...

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    1. As I noted in my reply to Col, Moira, I don't usually read books when they first come out. I am always behind on series, nowadays more than ever. But I consider this a special series and right up my alley too. I look forward to your review.

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