Mitch Berger, a top film critic with a major New York newspaper at a surprisingly young age, has become almost a recluse since his wife died one year ago. He spends his time secluded in his apartment or in the dark recesses of a screening room. Although he continues to dazzle moviegoers and the film elite with his criticisms, his editor and good friend is alarmed about him. As a scheme to pull him out of the doldrums of his grief, she gives him a non-film assignment - to do a color story on the wealthy and social homeowners on Connecticut's Gold Coast. It takes some doing, but in the end Mitch agrees.
He is fortunate to find a cottage to rent on Big Sister, the absolute top-of-the-line private island outside the town of Dorset. His landlady, Dolly, is pleasant and friendly, but some of the other inhabitants of this small piece of land, although too well bred to come right out and say it, are not happy to have Mitch, born of parents only one generation away from Eastern Europe and raised on the city's pavements, arrive in their back yard. But Dolly, whose husband has recently left her, needs the money, and at least she is more than gracious.
The discovery of a body during a bout of optimistic gardening in Dolly's back yard brings on the other main player - Lieutenant Desiree Mitry, one of only three women on the Connecticut State Police major crimes squad, the youngest of the three, and the only black. A dedicated officer, she is the terror of everyone who doesn't really want to give a home to one of her stray cats. She is, as well, a closet artist and a complicated and beautiful woman, and she intrigues Mitch from the start...in David Handler's The Cold Blue Blood.
In this first of a new series, Edgar Award winner Handler (The Man Who Loved Women to Death) weaves a complex web of mass murder and romance set on a private island off Connecticut's gold coast. Thirty years after a notorious rape and murder/suicide, blood flows anew on Big Sister isle, where New York film critic Mitch Berger rents a cottage hoping to escape the big city following his wife's death from cancer. His landlady, Dolly Peck Seymour, lives a troubled existence after losing two husbands, the second of whom Mitch discovers buried in her garden. Scandals past and present erupt in this social enclave with all the expected character types: "bluebloods" of the awkward title; effete snobs; a bitter, drunken redneck handyman; a tough local cop; and two gays living in the island's lighthouse. Black police detective Desiree Mitry, who leads the investigation, proves an intriguing heroine, with a fondness for stray cats and a gift for drawing, although her subjects are exclusively grisly crime scenes. By enlisting Berger's help, Mitry gains both an observant friend and a potential lover. An overnight trip Mitch makes to his grimy New York pad gives us a feeling of the hot city in summer, and we're as glad as he is to get back to the island, with its cooling breezes, despite its being under siege from the tabloid press. Handler has created an engaging odd couple, whose further adventures promise to win the same strong following as his Stewart Hoag series.