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Ice Cold by Tess Gerritsen

It's been a long, long wait for Tess Gerritsen's latest, Ice Cold.  Throughout my wait I've been obsessing about the massive spoiler revealed in the jacket blurb.  Is it for real or will it turn out to be a fake out because who puts that kind of major development involving a character upon which the series focuses on the book jacket instead of saving it for the mother of all shocking story lines for the unsuspecting reader?  That is the conundrum I've been pondering for several months ever since Amazon posted the blurb on the book's page.

The first few chapters seem off to a slow start that's compounded by the slight awkwardness of the diction in the first chapters describing what is surely (one way or another) the end of the affair for Dr. Maura Isles and her beloved Father Daniel Brophy (a Catholic priest with whom she's been having an affair for over a year!).  Then the story and the suspense crank up into a scary, thrilling page turner that's hard to put down.

Isles is in Wyoming at a forensic pathologists' conference where she reconnects with Doug, a former fellow medical student.  Doug convinces Maura to join him, his daughter, and two of his friends on a weekend excursion to a secluded ski lodge.  Maura, at a difficult emotional crossroads, impulsively decides to join the travel party.  The group takes their rented SUV and when the GPS takes them on a wrong tun, the trip slides sideways steadily and rapidly towards disaster.

When a charred body turns up in the burned wreckage of Doug's rented SUV, it is identified as Isles and Detective Jane Rizzoli, her FBI agent husband Gabriel Dean and Anthony Sansone escort the body back to Boston for burial.  However, this mystery is just getting cranked up and there are far more devious and far darker forces at work behind Isles' and her travel party's disappearance and murders.

Before long Rizzoli meets up with a social worker who tells her about a secretive, reclusive, isolated, polygamous cult that shuns and expels its teenage boys so the older men have less competition for the young girls.  The outrage doesn't end there when the social worker shares her suspicions that the charismatic cult leader buys off cops, town officials and judges in efforts to avoid legal repercussions and jail time.  In a town and county where the sheriff and any number of local law enforcement could be in the back pocket of this cult, who can Jane trust to run a clean investigation, to find the still unaccounted for Isles, and to see that the cult leader answers for his crimes?

The possibility of corrupt law enforcement reminds me of S.J. Bolton's debut novel (is it time for the fourth one yet?  No?  Still another seven months to go?), Sacrifice, in which law enforcement and local government officials were members of a murderous cult.  It only makes the action more terrifying when you don't know who might be revealed to be in bed in with the bad guys.

I recommend you pick up this novel-- it is another satisfying installment to the Rizzoli and Isles series.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie

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