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{February 12, 2014}   {ARC Review} Cold Mourning by Brenda Chapman (A Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery)

Cold MourningFrom Goodreads: It’s a week before Christmas when wealthy businessman Tom Underwood disappears into thin air — with more than enough people wanting him dead.

New police recruit Kala Stonechild, who has left her northern Ontario detachment to join a specialized Ottawa crime unit, is tasked with returning Underwood home in time for the holidays. Stonechild, who is from a First Nations reserve, is a lone wolf who is used to surviving on her wits. Her new boss, Detective Jacques Rouleau, has his hands full controlling her, his team, and an investigation that keeps threatening to go off track.

Old betrayals and complicated family relationships brutally collide when love turns to hate and murder stalks a family.

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I was immediately pulled into this story by the prologue as it focuses on two young girls as they battle a man who lured them into his van–it piqued my interest and pulled me right into the story. Then the novel jumps ahead a decade or so, and we meet new characters. Although it is obvious that Kala Stonechild is one of the little girls from the prologue, using a different name, the text doesn’t come out and say it, and so it keeps readers guessing. In fact, the novel actually keeps readers guessing throughout much of it, especially with the revelations that keep popping up in regards to Tom’s Underwood’s murder, the main focus of the novel.

Kala Stonechild is a hard character to get to know. She keeps herself closed off from everyone, including the reader, but she’s a hard worker, quick on her feet, and she’s admirable. I really enjoyed her aloofness, even though that meant I didn’t really connect with her on the deeper level. Usually that is bothersome to me in a novel, but in this case, it worked perfectly because I don’t think readers were really supposed to bond with her, but rather watch her unfold and slowly solve a murder mystery.

A mystery that kept me guessing. I didn’t know who the murdered was until Stonechild figured it out. I had my guesses, but since the novel was pointing in those directions, I was sure I was wrong (and I was). The actual killer never crossed my mind as a suspect, and that’s what made it really intriguing, because once it came out, everything fit–I just didn’t see it in the beginning.

If you enjoy murder mysteries and piecing together the puzzle alongside characters in your novel, then this is definitely a novel for you.  Four stars.

4 stars

Dundurn has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this full novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on February 17, 2014, in exchange for an honest review.

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