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ICE COLD by Tess Gerritsen: Book Review

Dr. Maura Isles is in hot water again. Or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say the hot water she’s in is located in the frigid Wyoming wilderness.

Ice Cold opens with a portrait of Kingdom Come, a religious community with a charismatic leader.  The village that the members of Jeremiah Goode’s church have carved out of the barren land is basically self-sufficient and closed to the surrounding cities and towns.  There’s no electricity, no running water in Kingdom Come, but there is one huge benefit, at least for the leader and the other men–polygamous marriages to young girls. And thirteen-year-old Katie Sheldon is one of those unwilling brides, forced down the aisle by the tight grip of her father to marry the reverend.

Maura, the Boston medical examiner who is a cool customer at all times, is definitely out of her big city element in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where she has gone to attend a conference.  She’s also still recovering from leaving her secret lover, Father Daniel Brophy. Maura and Daniel have been lovers for more than a year, and Daniel’s inability to choose between his two loves–his church and Maura–seems to have brought Maura to a crisis point.  Can she/they continue this way, or must Daniel at last make a choice?

At the conference Maura meets a former college classmate.  Doug Comley is attending the conference with two friends and his teenage daughter, and he persuades the not-very-spontaneous Maura to go with them on an overnight cross-country skiing trip.  Following his car’s GPS, the group becomes stranded on an icy, snowbound road with no habitation in sight.  Then they see a sign in the snow–Private Road, Residents Only, Area Patrolled–and realize they have chanced upon Kingdom Come, a name they’d only just heard from a local storekeeper.

When they finally make their way down to the village, it’s deserted.  The houses are empty of people, but there are cars in the garages and food on the tables.  What could have happened to make the inhabitants flee their homes, leaving pets behind to die, and simply disappear?

Back in Boston, Father Daniel is worried because he hasn’t heard from Maura and she didn’t catch her flight home.  The ever reliable doctor would never behave like this, he’s sure.  And now even her friend Detective Jane Rizzoli of the Boston Police Department and Jane’s husband, FBI agent Gabriel Dean, acknowledge that something is seriously wrong.

Tess Gerritsen, herself a physician, has created a very strong character in Dr. Maura Isles. In this, the eighth book featuring the medical examiner, Maura has reached a midlife crisis of sorts.  That’s one of the reasons she decides to do something out of the ordinary with her former college friend, a decision that nearly leads to her death.  By the end of the novel, the doctor has escaped death more than once and owes her life to a very unlikely duo.

You can read more about Tess Gerritsen at her web site .