The Girl in the Ice: by Robert Bryndza, Hachette, 2017
Erika returns to work prematurely after some time off from a botched drug raid, where her bad judgement resulted in the death of her police officer husband and some team members. This traumatic experience leaves her a changed woman, harbouring a sea of guilt. Known for her skill in closing rape and murder cases, she answers a call from the South London police department to step in as the lead investigator of a highly publicised homicide investigation.
Andrea Douglas-Brown, found frozen in a lake in South London, is a beautiful, wealthy socialite and daughter of a prominent businessman and influential Labour Peer who demands justice for his daughter’s brutal death. Erika’s mission is to find the killer, manage police politics, deal with Andrea’s family and patch up her broken life. Despite the push back from her police peers and Andrea’s family, Erika is tenacious and her nononsense style made me want to high five her.
“Now, DCI Sparks, you are in danger of contaminating the crime scene. If you wish to continue to observe, I’ll ask that you follow proper procedure, suit up and shut up.”
She does comes across as cold, sometimes irrational, but as her story unfolds throughout the book, we see her vulnerability beneath the hard exterior. I admired her determination to do the right thing, even if it means pushing for answers until it physically hurts. The closer she was to connecting the dots, the more her life was at risk.
Some characters in the book made me flinch, but Moss, Erika’s tough partner, provided some comic relief and played a great support to Erika. Bryndza tackles relevant, important subjects such as racism, prejudice against immigrants, human trafficking, prostitution and corruption. He nailed the way big establishments and family names like the Douglas-Brown’s influence how things are run and not in a flattering way.
I also liked the gloomy Southern London setting. It reminded me of British detective television series, Luther.
What I found frustrating was the large range of suspects. I suspected everyone to be the killer! But even that was a good thing, as I was totally shocked at the final showdown.
A recommended read for anyone who loves a strong female character and a good ‘who-didit’ story.