It's a few days past New Year's, and those die-hard Minnesotans are
finally happy. At long last, after an early winter that has
threatened to damage their reputation for having the country's
worst winters, Minneapolis is bracing itself for its first real
blizzard. And this one's a doozy, too --- it'll drop close to three
feet of ice and snow before it's over, leaving piles of the white
stuff...and hiding more than one body.
Minneapolis Police Department homicide detective Gino Rolseth has
been drafted to enter a snowman-building contest as part of the
city's winter festival, coinciding happily with this new snowstorm.
But children's happy laughs and shrieks turn to horrified screams
when one child discovers a dead body packed inside one of the
hundreds of snowpeople dotting the large city park.
Rolseth and his partner Leo Magozzi are soon on the trail of a
killer (or killers?), a trail that will lead them 60 miles north of
the Twin Cities on ice-packed roads to the rural county where a
suspected killer is hell-bent on revenge. There they find another
long-buried body, a brand new sheriff in way over her head, and a
mysterious community united by their horrific pasts.
One of the greatest gifts possessed by the mother-daughter writing
team known as P. J. Tracy is their ability to confer genuine
character development both to a core group of recurring characters
and to the new characters who might appear in just one book in the
series. In SNOW BLIND, those who have read the three previous books
in the Monkeewrench series will be pleased to find Rolseth
and Magozzi, along with the wildly eccentric Monkeewrench team,
back for this newest installment. Dundas County Sherriff Iris
Rikker, contending with a murder during her very first day on the
job, is also a fully drawn character, eager to test her police
training without revealing her barely hidden vulnerabilities.
Tracy manages to impart this character development even in the
midst of an engaging, elaborate plot that touches on several
different jurisdictions, decades and even states. It also --- in a
theme that I can't mention because it gives away part of the plot
--- asks readers to consider the ethical implications of Rolseth
and Magozzi's investigation, as well as of the crime that sparks it
in the first place.
If you are a reader who likes crime novels with tidy plots and
easily wrapped-up endings, then SNOW BLIND might not be for you.
But if you enjoy a complex, creative, wisecracking mystery that
touches on real-world concerns, then this will be the novel to send
a chill down your spine even while you're sunning yourself at the
Reviewed by Norah Piehl on January 23, 2011