It's the dead of winter, and a killer like no other is turning a small Wisconsin town into a death trap-one that's closing in on Lucas Davenport.
The author of four previous mystery thrillers starring Lucas Davenport ( Rules of Prey , etc.) evokes with precision and clarity two disparate, but equally unsettling types of harshness: the raw power of nature and the pitilessness of certain human beings. In a rural area of northern Wisconsin, a family of three is savagely wiped out by the Iceman, who then torches their house. In pursuit of a damaging photograph--a snapshot of him in a sexual situation with a local boy--this fiend puts no value on human life. Enter Davenport, the laconic, slightly cynical ex-cop from Minneapolis, who uncovers several disturbing truths before determining the Iceman's identity. The wintry climate is practically palpable here; numbing cold and blizzards prove as threatening as the Iceman's malevolence. Despite its chilling moments (literally and figuratively), this forceful narrative is tempered with an unexpected humanity, as evidenced primarily in the mature, slowly blossoming romance between Davenport and a local doctor. The moments of tenderness and humor shared by the rugged detective and this worldlywise Mother Earth figure stand in vigorous counterpoint to the surrounding events. Sandford casts a keen eye, too, on small-town life: he knows that everyone's peccadillos are grist for the rumor mill, and that secrets can quickly sour. A compelling vitality suffuses this novel, arguably the finest in a sterling quintet.