Friday, December 16, 2016

Cold Mourning: Brenda Chapman

I always aim to have a few Christmas mysteries to review at this time. This is my second book for 2016 set around Christmas.

Kala Stonechild, a First Nations police officer with a troubled background, arrives in Ottawa, Ontario for a new job just a few days before Christmas. She has been hired by Detective Jacques Rouleau, who heads a specialized unit in the Major Crimes division. Very shortly after Kala reports in for her new job, wealthy businessman Tom Underwood goes missing. Kala is assigned to the case before she even has time to find a place to live. As she and other members of the team interview his family and business associates, they uncover dysfunctional family relationships and disagreements within Underwood's business, pointing to many people who might want him dead.

There are a couple of secondary plots. Kala has moved to the area to look for a cousin who she has lost contact with. She spends any extra time she has looking for this woman. A secondary case the team is working on is related to a man assaulting women in apartment building lobbies and fondling them.

The story is told from multiple viewpoints. Kala's. Rouleau's. Geraldine, the missing man's daughter. Susan, a friend of Tom and his first wife. The story moves along quickly. The characters are well developed, especially Kala and her boss. Enough background about the characters' lives is provided so that they are believable, although Tom Underwood's family is an exceptionally mixed-up, conflicted group. The gradual reveal of various relationships and issues they have is very effective.

I enjoyed reading this book; for those who like police procedurals, I recommend it. I would like to continue the series, and see what happens next in the lives of Kala and Rouleau. They are both likable characters, dealing with issues in their lives, but in a healthy way. Kala is a strong female, secure in her abilities as a policewoman, and dealing well with the racism and sexism she encounters. Detective Rouleau is older, recently divorced, and dealing with that loss in his life.

As noted above, I picked this book to read and review at this time because of the Christmas setting. It does not have a Christmas theme as such, but Kala does arrive in Ottawa shortly before Christmas, and Tom Underwood disappears after leaving a company Christmas party. And because this is Canada, there is snow and cold weather and it really feels like Christmas time... unlike Southern California at Christmas. There are more parties and the buildup to Christmas is going on during the investigation, and the characters are having to deal with trauma in their lives in one way or another during the Christmas season, which should be bright and merry (in theory). Of course, Christmas is often not so merry for those who work in law enforcement.

See other reviews at Mysteries and More from Saskatchewan and Peggy Ann's Post.


Publisher:   Dundurn, 2014.
Length:       389 pages
Format:      Trade Paperback
Series:       A Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery, #1
Setting:      Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Genre:        Police Procedural
Source:      I purchased this book.


Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Tracy, I don't like secondary plots. I find them intrusive. I like one story, one plot, one main character. Of course, I read them even otherwise. I have not decided what to read for Christmas, probably a short story as time is running out.

Peggy Arthurs said...

It was a very good book, Tracy! Thanks for the shout out😉

Anonymous said...

I remember reading about this one on Mysteries and More From Saskatchewan, Tracy. I appreciate the reminder of it very much, and it's good to hear you enjoyed it. I may have to move this from 'on my radar' to 'put this one on the TBR.'

TracyK said...

Prashant, in this case the secondary plot with Kala searching for the cousin was kind of distracting, but on the other hand it was her motivation for being there. In police procedurals, there are often realistically multiple crimes being investigated. Sometimes I like that, sometimes not.

TracyK said...

I enjoyed it too, Peggy, and I liked the points in your review.

TracyK said...

It seems like a good series to me, Margot, and I want to read the second one to see if it is as good.

Clothes In Books said...

This sounded familiar, and then I realized (as Margot did) that I've read about it on Bill's blog. Sounds good - you've already made me obtain your previous Xmas mystery, the Mumming one. You are doing me no good at all!

TracyK said...

I liked it a lot, and I liked the characters, Moira, but then I am partial to police procedurals. I am trying to put off buying the 2nd one in the series because I have too many books, but I keep coming back to it.