Book Review: THE GIRL IN THE ICE by Robert Bryndza

THE GIRL IN THE ICE

Review by Holly Chaille

By Robert Bryndza

A cold night, fog in the air, and moonlight casting unreliable shadows. She’s upset to the point of wandering so far no one will hear her cry for help. This is the kind of prologue with layers of description that create an atmosphere so tense I was instantly transported to the setting of the crime. Even knowing something terrible was gaining on her, I couldn’t look away. And I didn’t until the last page of this sprint-paced story, which lands perfectly at an ending that satisfies the whodunit faithful.

A British crime mystery that hit several bestseller lists, Robert Bryndza’s The Girl in the Ice introduces a strong female protagonist in Detective Erika Foster. A woman with very recent demons still haunting her, Erika expects to be on desk duty for the foreseeable future. But an old friend, feeling she needs to get back in the game, calls her into a high profile murder investigation of a young socialite whose influential parents seem hell-bent on preventing Foster from solving the case.

Navigating her new team—not all of whom are thrilled to bring her on—adds tension to an already stressed out Foster, whose disdain for authority and fragile psyche take a few chapters to figure out.  As protagonists go, she’s well-written and believable, giving the reader more than enough personality to connect with.

With the body count rising Detective Foster challenges those around her to dig deeper to find the common denominator. But the closer she gets the more pressure she gets from her higher-ups to reroute her investigation away from the socialite’s famous family. Foster is abruptly removed from the case and, as strong women are wont to do, seizes the opportunity to go even harder toward her goal.  She’s a brilliant, fearless strategist with no apologies for her direct approach, and this is why the series has sold millions of copies.

The dialogue is the strongest aspect of the story, giving the minor characters dimension and depth. Bryndza threads the kind of nuance throughout the dialogue that makes everyone seem like a viable suspect. Fans of Elizabeth George and Ruth Rendell will appreciate the uncompromising style and British elegance of his writing and character building.

Though this was Bryndza’s first in the Erika Foster series he’s just released number six so fans are advised to select a good bottle of red and hunker down with a stack of these page-turning thrillers and get to know Detective Erika Foster.

Garden Grooves

Bobby “Blue” Bland is belting out Stormy Monday Blues as I emerge from the confessional where I’ve just admitted the killing of several beloved houseplants. Seems about right. It’s a blues tune but like all blues music, it rocks me into a calm meditative state.
Gardening has the same effect on me. I can drop to my knees and dig around in the dirt for hours and be completely at peace. Perhaps it’s the act of kneeling that sets the mood of reverence. I’m blissfully contemplative in the garden, seeding new life in a soil bed or nurturing growing plants.

And all the while my iPod serenades, swings and stomps me around the house or garden. I’ve got playlists of fast loud rock that gets me through a day of mulch moving, chick rockers to tell me stories while I prune, jazz for weeding and straight up blues that’s on 90% of the time. Shuffle blues, gospel blues, big band blues, Chicago blues, any of it, all of it. There’s not a feeling in this world that hasn’t been juked, boogied or twanged into a musical plea for your attention.
Plants love music, too. So fire up your speakers and get your groove on!

Here’s this week’s broadcast list:

Ain’t No Way – Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart
10 Rocks – Shelby Lynne
The Grindhouse Blues – Robert Rodriguez
Sweet Little Angel – Big Mama Thornton
I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl – Nina Simone
Stormy Monday Blues – Bobby “Blue” Band

Shimmy

Koko Taylor was pitching a wang dang doodle all night long and Sally whooped. Spinning around she shimmied toward CC and held out her hands. CC smiled and pushed her chair back. She could never resist the opportunity to dance, especially with Sally, whose moves were at once fantastically sexy and so bawdy it could make a truck driver blush. Sally bit her lower lip, brow furled, and slowly twisted while lowering her rear end toward the floor. She must have iron glutes I thought, not for the first time.

“Come on girl. Get your groove thang groovin’,” Sally said as she twisted back upright and added crazy legs to her dance.

I took my wine glass in one hand and Sally’s hand in the other just as the music changed to John Mayall singing Where Did My Legs Go. We two-stepped around the table while CC shimmied solo. The three of us moved easily around each other, clinking glasses when we passed.

CC could dance for hours and sometimes did. She would plug in her earphones and move throughout the house singing and twisting and getting a bit of housework done, though not a lot.

The idea was to relax rather than clean but every now and again something got dusted or sorted, more a side effect of the dancing. One of her favorite songs was Howlin’ Wolf’s Built for Comfort. Sally and I would know when that song was playing in CC’s ears because she would sing along in a growly melisma, with a few “Tell em, Wolf!” or “Lay it down, man!” shouts of encouragement.

Bonus material from The Poison Season