Friday, October 13, 2017

Cold as Ice (The Country Club Murders Book 6)

Author:  Julie Mulhern
Genre:  Mystery/Suspense

Hardcover; Trade Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781635112672; 97816355112115
Henery Press Publishing
268 Pages
$29.86; $15.95; $6.99 Amazon
October 17, 2016

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Ellison Russell's life resembles a rollercoaster ride.  And rollercoasters make her ill.  Her daughter Grace has a crush on a boy Ellison doesn't trust and she's taken to hosting wild parties when Ellison goes out for the evening.  Worse, the bank which represents Grace's inheritance from her father may be in trouble.  When a meeting with the chef at the country club leads to the discovery of a body, Ellison can't afford cold feet.  She must save the bank, find the killer, and convince Grace (and herself) that powerful women don't need men to rescue them.

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It's nearing Thanksgiving in Kansas City, and life is -sort of - getting back to normal for Ellison Russell.  But while everything seems to be going along smoothly, it just...isn't.  Her daughter Grace has been caught throwing a wild party in her absence, and while that may seem to be enough of a headache, it only gets worse when her bank president tells her the bank - her late husband's legacy to Grace - may be going under due to an unpaid loan.

The loan, owed by Tom Michaels, is the father of a boy Ellison does not want Grace seeing.  But each time she tries to call Tom, he's unavailable.  And when she does get a chance to speak with his wife Laurie, she leaves before anything is resolved.

But it's while she's at the country club planning a party for a friend when the sous chef opens the walk-in freezer to find Laurie's frozen body that it turns into a nightmare.  Another body.  The wife of the husband with a million dollar loan.  And the mother of a boy with lax morals who seems to be interested in her daughter.  Life is definitely not normal for Ellison Russell.

While warned to stay out of this investigation by the ever-present homicide Detective Anarchy Jones, Ellison's maybe-boyfriend she doesn't want to say anything about the bank.  Ellison needs to know if Laurie left life insurance, and for how much; hopefully enough to cover the loan; and she she needs the help of Hunter Tafft, her attorney who's also highly interested in her personally, to find out what can be done to place a lien, if possible; and, horror of horrors, she also needs to enlist the help of her intimidating mother, Frances.

But it isn't going to be easy.  She needs to stay under the radar of the police to conduct her own investigation - because if Tom is convicted of the crime they'll be no life insurance.  To top it off, her late husband's sister Gwen is spending the holiday with them, and Gwen doesn't (and never has) approved of Ellison.  This holiday may be more memorable than Ellison would like it to be.

But then things get worse:  Ellison discovers another body, one which may very well have ties to the first.  With the suspect list dwindling, the body count growing, and Tom as the police's likely culprit, Ellison needs to work fast before the bank closes its doors forever...

Once again, Ms. Mulhern has taken us back to 1974, a time with no cellphones or computers, and all information must be gathered the old-fashioned way: through the grapevine.  It's a simpler time when people didn't depend on daily updates online, but through telephone calls, people needed to actually talk to one another, and Google was a thing of the future.  She does this, and more, admirably.

I found the book quite entertaining, with just enough components to make it realistic - a mother raising a sixteen-year-old daughter alone and trying to do her best; and adding that to the other storyline, weaving them together seamlessly and effortlessly; both essential to the book's plot. 

The narrative carries us along easily, rolling our eyes much as Grace did, at some of the wordplay between characters (who are all delightful, by the way), giving us an engaging tale of life in another place and time - albeit one littered with dead bodies along the way (but then again, isn't that why we're reading this series in the first place?)

When we learn the identity of the killer and come to the end of the book, we see that actions have consequences, and consequences affect our lives, for good or bad.  Whether right or wrong, the choices we make color our lives forever, and learning from them is the hardest -and maybe the most bittersweet - lesson of all.

Although you might be tempted to peek at the ending, I urge you not to do so.  Unfolding the story as it is written will add to a wonderful journey through words and images in your mind.  Highly recommended and I look forward to the next in the series.



More on Julie Mulhern's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/m/julie-mulhern/

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