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Monday, 21 November 2016

‘A Deadly Thaw’ by Sarah Ward

Published by Faber and Faber,
30 August 2016.
ISBN: 978-0-571-32102-5 (HB)

In 2004 Lena Fisher confesses to suffocating her husband Andrew. After 11 years in prison Lena is released and moves back to her family home and lives with her younger sister Kat, now a trained counsellor.

The discovery in the spring of 2016 of Andrews’s body in a disused mortuary begs the question ‘who was the man Lena killed in 2004?’  Why would she identify him as her husband?  And who has actually killed Andrew, and why? And why did Lena kill the unknown man?

For a lover of mystery this is a delicious book.

As Detective Inspector Francis Sadler and D C Connie Childs attempt to unravel the misidentification - find the killer of Andrew Fisher and the identity of the unknown man - they along with the pathologist Bill Shields and Superintendent Dai Llewellyn  are aware, as Bill puts it, that with such a monumental cock-up heads could roll.

Since Lena was arrested and convicted despite regular visiting by Kat there has been little intimacy between the sisters, although prior to the killing they were close. When Lena disappears, Kat sets out to track her down.  A series of clues come to light via a young boy and although they initially make no sense Kat determines to follow any lead, especially when one of them is a gun.

Whilst the mystery is riveting in its complexity so too are the lives of the characters – Connie, who has personal issue to deal with, and  Kat who is beginning to get too close a client.  There are many threads to this story and at the heart of it is Lena.  As the present day story unfolds the narrative is interspersed with several flashbacks to the sisters’ childhood in the 1980’s.

Set in the beautiful Derbyshire Peak District, Sarah Ward atmospherically weaves a tale with its answers in the past. Skilfully she blends past and present.  This is only Sarah Ward’s second book but she is a master of suspense and misdirection. Cleverly plotted, this book kept me guessing to the end when the strands of the story were effortlessly pulled together. Although some story lines are still to be resolved. I am eagerly looking forward to the next book.  Highly recommended. 
Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett

Sarah Ward is an online book reviewer whose blog, Crimepieces, reviews the best of current crime fiction published around the world. She is a judge for the Petrona Award for translated Scandinavian crime novels. Sarah lives in rural Derbyshire where her debut novel, In Bitter Chill, published by Faber and Faber, is set.

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