A Deadly Thaw starts with the discovery of a murder victim. Clearly nothing out of the ordinary for a crime story, however DI Sadler recognises the victim as Andrew Fisher, a man who’d been murdered 10 years earlier, so how could his fresh body be there at this new crime scene?
Obvious questions arise. Who was the original victim? How did his real identity remain unknown? And where has the current victim been for the past ten years before being murdered “again”?
Lena Gray, wife of the victim, newly released from a jail term for the first murder is the only one with the answers, and yet, as soon as her “resurrected” husband’s recent murder comes to light, she disappears.
Is she now responsible for killing the man she was thought to have murdered a decade before?
This book follows a similar format to Sarah Ward’s previous book, alternating the police investigation with the story of another character who has family connections to the crime, in this case Lena’s sister Kat. It’s an effective technique that keeps us in mind of the human cost of the situation, so that the book‘s appeal remains much more than an intriguing legal puzzle to be solved.
We also see more of the personal lives of detectives Sadler, Palmer and Childs, how they become affected by a case, and also how their work on a case can be affected by their non-work related interactions.
Another feature the books have in common is the way the past and present both collide. In this book suppressed secrets are drawn out to the cost of victims, perpetrators and investigators alike. As one character says towards the end:
“Mistakes from our past are coming back to haunt us.”
The further I got into the book, the more I loved it. As the various seemingly unrelated strands started to come together, the pace increased incrementally to a satisfyingly unforeseen conclusion.
Along the way the story addresses some very serious issues related to the neglect of responsible authority, as well as the abuse and misuse of power.
These matters have become prominently topical in recent news reports.
More information on Sarah Ward’s website: