Get Blog Posts Via Email

View RSS Feed


Book Author: M. P. Cooley

ICE SHEAR by M. P. Cooley: Book Review

Ice Shear is M. P. Cooley’s debut novel, and it’s terrific.  June Lyons is a former FBI agent, now a police officer, who has come back to live in the upstate New York town where she was born, Hopewell Falls.  If you change the second syllable of the first word to less, you have a description of this small town; it has fallen on hard times without much hope for the future.

June is living with her young daughter, Lucy, and her father, a retired detective on the Hopewell Falls’ police force.  June’s husband, Kevin, also a former FBI agent, died three years ago, prompting her return home. 

It’s a place where murder is rare, perhaps one per year, but today is the day for the body of Danielle Brouillette, daughter of the town’s representative to the U.S. Congress, to be found on the frozen banks of the Mohawk River.  At first glance it looks as if Danielle might have fallen from the cliffs above the river, but a closer examination shows that she was dead before hitting the ice spike that tore her body apart.

Danielle was a beautiful, bright, and troubled young woman.  Exceedingly headstrong, she was expelled from college in California for unacceptable behavior and substance abuse issues.  She didn’t get in touch with her parents for several months after this, and when she did it was to turn up on their doorstep with her new husband.  Her well-to-do and politically powerful parents refused to accept him, and so the estrangement between Danielle and her parents continued.

Danielle’s husband, Marty Jelickson, is a former member of the outlaw motorcycle gang the Abominations.  Marty’s father, Zeke, is the head of the gang, and Marty’s younger brother Ray is also a member.  Now the Abominations, including Marty’s parents, are headed to Hopewell Falls for Danielle’s funeral, and June is certain there will be a major confrontation between the two sets of parents.

Ms. Cooley draws a wonderful picture of this small New York town, financially devastated by the Great Recession.  The downtown is nearly nonexistent, jobs are few and menial, and young people move out as soon as they can.  So why was Danielle so eager to leave California and return home?

The characters are extremely well-drawn.  June has the problems of most single mothers, not enough time with her child and stress at work.  There’s tension between the police force, the district attorney Jerry Defoe, and the FBI, which has been called to join the investigation since the victim was the daughter of a congresswoman. 

The FBI agent sent to assist the police is Hale Bascom, who was a close friend of June’s and Kevin’s until the latter got cancer; then he disappeared from their lives.  June hasn’t spoken to or seen Hale since before Kevin’s death, and she has bitter feelings toward him now.

Ice Shear marks the beginning, I hope, of a new series.  You can read more about M. P. Cooley at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.