Under Cold Stone
A Molly Smith Mystery by Vicki Delany
Review: While Lucky Smith and Trafalgar's Chief Constable Paul Keller are spending a quiet weekend at the Banff Springs Hotel, Paul's estranged son Matt calls to say that his roommate is dead in his apartment. Paul tells him to call 911, that he'll be right over, but when he arrives Matt has left the scene and is now the prime suspect for the crime, in Under Cold Stone, the seventh mystery in this series by Vicki Delany.
Back in Trafalgar, Constable Molly Smith is preparing a Thanksgiving dinner, but puts those plans on hold as she travels to Banff to be with her mother while Paul assists the local authorities. Molly is under strict orders to not get involved with the investigation as she has no jurisdiction, but Paul — her superior officer — suggests she talk to Matt's friends and associates as a private citizen. That maybe she can get some answers where the police cannot. She does just that, talking to his girlfriend and co-workers, learning little but coming to the conclusion that Matt is innocent of murder. Just who would want his roommate dead and why is still unclear, but what is clear is that Matt's roommate was almost certainly mixed up in something criminal … but so much so that someone would want him dead?
The murder mystery plot of Under Cold Stone is well constructed allowing for several what-ifs to be considered by Molly Smith (and, by extension, the reader). There is the whole concept of innocent until proven guilty, but if Matt Keller really had nothing to do with murder and merely stumbled onto the scene as he says, why did he run? Separate to the primary investigation by the Banff police and subsequent search for Matt, there is a subplot about a potential housing development on forested wilderness near Trafalgar, which Molly's boyfriend Sergeant John Winters is involved with. Environmentalists are protesting the proposed construction and it is his responsibility to see that tension between the two sides doesn't escalate into violence. Of course the two storylines are connected, but it is to the author's credit that it isn't obvious how until quite late in the book. Under Cold Stone strikes a nice balance between strongly developed characters, a descriptive, often striking setting, and a solidly crafted plot that will keep readers engaged in the story through to the final page.
Acknowledgment: Poisoned Pen Press provided an eARC of Under Cold Stone for this review.
Review Copyright © 2014 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Among the Departed
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), May 2011
ISBN-13: 9781590589243; ISBN-10: 1590589246
Location(s) referenced in Under Cold Stone: Banff, Alberta; Trafalgar, British Columbia
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Under Cold Stone by Vicki Delany — A Molly Smith Mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: April 2014
List Price: $24.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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