Hard Cold Winter
Review: Will Willard, a long-time friend of Van Shaw's late grandfather, asks Van to look for his niece, who didn't show up for work at one of Willard's roving — and quite illegal — card games. Elana Coll had recently been dating Kendrick Haymes, the son of one of Seattle's richest men, and Willard thought they may have headed up to a cabin on private property in the Olympic Mountains. But when Van arrives, he finds tire tracks of at least three vehicles in and out, and the brutally murdered bodies of a woman and man, presumably Elana and Kend, in Hard Cold Winter, the second mystery in this series by Glen Erik Hamilton.
Though the woman's head had nearly been blown off, Willard identifies his niece by a tattoo on her leg. And while a bear had gotten to the body of the man before Van got there, enough remained for the Kend's father, Maurice, to identify him. Willard, of course, wants Van to find who killed his niece and why, but Van is surprised when Maurice Haymes contacts him and requests his help in finding, not who killed his son, but what may have happened to boxes of documents that Kend had taken with him to the cabin to sort through. Van didn't notice any boxes there and the police would have surely taken anything they found into evidence, but nothing of the sort was reported to have been found by them. Van quickly determines that Kend was deep in debt to the Russian mob, and that the "documents" that Maurice Haymes claimed Kend had in his possession were anything but. Nothing is adding up, and it seems everyone who has asked for Van's help is lying to him.
Hard Cold Winter is a well-structured and paced mystery with a strongly developed character as its lead. But Van isn't in this alone; an old Army buddy shows up in town, clearly suffering from PTSD, but not so much that it interferes with him helping Van out in determining what happened in that cabin and sorting out the truth from the lies. They make for a surprisingly effective team. The narrative moves forward at a fairly rapid pace, never veering far from the tasks at hand, and is, for the most part, effectively delivered. It is only slightly dismaying that Van finds himself in a situation where someone more or less says, I'll tell you what you need to know and then I'll kill you. It is always preferable for the series lead to figure things out on their own rather than having it spelled out for them. Still, by this time in the story, Van nearly has all the pieces put together, so it's a minor quibble. This follow-up isn't quite as good as the absolutely top-notch first book in this series, but it doesn't disappoint either.
Acknowledgment: HarperCollins provided a copy of Hard Cold Winter for this review.
Review Copyright © 2016 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
William Morrow (Hardcover), March 2015
ISBN-13: 9780062344557; ISBN-10: 0062344552
Location(s) referenced in Hard Cold Winter: Seattle, Washington
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Hard Cold Winter by Glen Erik Hamilton — A Van Shaw Mystery
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: March 2016
List Price: $25.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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