Cold to the Touch

Cold to the Touch - Cari Hunter I look forward to any new Cari Hunter with the eagerness and excitement that other readers do their Melissa Braydens. :) If you've never heard of Ms. Hunter, she's the lesfic queen of murder and mayhem. Yep, I have strange taste. Not for the violence of course, but for the thrill of the chase, the exhilaration of overcoming / surviving impossible odds, and the tender loving care and comforting that comes naturally afterwards--such is the appeal of hurt/comfort genre for me.

Cold to the Touch is the second book in her detective procedural series centering on diminutive but scrappy detective Sanne Jensen and her investigative division specializing in violent crimes. The case here is independent of the first book but Sanne's backstory and her 'complicated' relationship with bff and occasional fwb, ER doc Meg Fielding is best appreciated by starting from the start.

Dour winter weather in the Peak District seemed a reflection of the all-around bad moods and tempers after the holidays. Crime rates are up. The detectives are overwhelmed. And Sanne is in a funk. So bad that it has affected her performance at work and she's been put on notice. Thus the stage is set for the overall depressing tone of the book. If the previous Peak District book had featured its beautiful but desolate natural landscape, this time we get a glimpse of the opposite--a dark and dank pit of crime and poverty. Sanne picks up a case involving a victim no one cares about--a murdered junkie. We follow her investigation into the depths of Malory, and encounter a subculture of people forever trapped by a hopeless and vicious cycle of drugs, alcohol, pregnancy, unemployment and eventually homelessness.

Sanne and Meg by sheer hard work have managed to dig themselves out of that hole, yet occasionally still find themselves in danger of being pulled back in by their past ties. A careless sister. A greedy brother. As the meticulous investigation proceeds and the body count rises, the brass is panicking and looking for a convenient scapegoat. What's more convenient than the newest female detective who's just been put under 'improvement notice' by her own boss.

As In every Cari Hunter book, we're again completely transported to her settings--and not just visually either. All our senses are engaged: the sounds, the feels, the emotions, even the smells. We're right there with Sanne as she goes through the drudgery of her day. We cringe at the horrific scenes she has to witness and poke through as part of her job. We can almost smell her fear when she has to confront the enemy armed only with a stick and a spray (!) Such is the power and realism of the author's writing.

The case itself starts off fairly straighforward. Like the people around Sanne, we readers won't likely care very much about the victim. Nor the assorted persons of interest Sanne investigates. Fortunately, the story perks up when the violence meter hits the roof (this wouldn't be a Cari Hunter book if it didn't ;) ). It's never over-the-top though and the clinical accuracy reflects the author's background in emergency services.

Deftly Interspersed with the investigation is Sanne's on-again, off-again relationship with best friend Meg. I maybe biased given my romantic preferences, but their interactions are always the highlights of the series. Comfortably and affectionately snarky best describes their exchanges. Unfortunately, these two ladies spent a good deal of the book mucking about in the dark when it comes to each other. :( It's sort of a dark running joke actually. Everyone but the girls think they should be together. Even Fate does, it seems, as She repeatedly throws them together, just to see if they'll finally open their eyes. :)

4.5

ARC provided by Netgalley