Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cold Kill by David Lawrence

Title: Cold Kill
Author: David Lawrence
ISBN: 0312347413, Thomas Dunne Books, 2006
Genre: Police Procedural, #3 Stella Mooney mystery
Rating: B

First Line: The sky is darkening but not yet dark; it shows a vibrant, unbroken blue, so deep that if you stare at it long you might take it to be the onset of blindness....

It's Christmas season in London, and someone is going around taking a hammer to women, partially stripping them and then garroting them. Detective Sergeant Stella Mooney thinks Father Christmas may have appeared early when a creepy confessor, Robert Adrian Kimber, shows up at the station, knowing more about the latest killing than he should. Unfortunately, there is no concrete proof to link him to the crimes; he's just a serial killer wannabe. Stella has to let him go even though it's against her better judgment. And if she's not having enough trouble with this rash of killings, she's got trouble at home. John Delaney, her journalist lover, is using bits of her privileged information to help him with his own stories.

This is a mystery series I have enjoyed in the past. I liked the new wrinkles Lawrence puts in the serial killer oeuvre even though some of the resolution depended a bit too much on coincidence. No...I liked the plot-- what got up my nose this third time around was the character of Stella herself. She grew up in one of the roughest, most dangerous estates in London. She knows there are people living there who would just as soon kill you as look at you. What does she do? Repeatedly barge in after someone either solo or with just one other person. If she believes she's Super Woman, fine. But she shouldn't risk someone else's life due to her own personal notions of invincibility.

Her love life also grates on my nerves. She lived with a nice guy, but evidently the man was too nice because she became dissatisfied. Mr. Nice Guy headed to the States. She's taken up with a journalist now, and is completely surprised when he noses through her case notes and uses the gleanings to further some of the stories he's working on. She's dissatisfied again, and there's this really interesting sounding guy on the phone at Forensics.... Okay, Stella. Steer your own path, cut a swath through all the men in London. Just know that the wake's getting a bit high for me, and I'm going to row my little dinghy off into a different cove of mysteries.

Lawrence is excellent at portraying the seamier sections of London. When I read about the Harefield Estates my skin crawls and I want eyes in the back of my head. (300 Spartans to go in there with me would be fantastic as well.) I also enjoy Lawrence's gallows humor. The twists and turns of his plot in Cold Kill kept me guessing and kept me turning the pages. I simply had a very subjective reaction to the main character that was a carryover from the last book.

My subjective reaction isn't yours. Don't let me put you off this series because the writing is top notch!


  1. Super review. I'll think about adding this series to my wish list, but I'm not going to run right out and get it.

    Have I said yet that I love your new look?

  2. This sounds like a good one since it makes your skin crawl and has gallows humor - what else could a girl ask for? Great review, as always.

  3. I hear what you are saying. Characters really should listen to us when we are talking to them. What is Stella thinking?

    I see you brought back the Library Thing book rotation. Thanks. I really like looking at that.

  4. You've made me curious about this one. Thanks for the review.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  5. Great review! I too am curious about this series - will check it out in more detail.

  6. Beth--I wouldn't if I were you. I found the review I wrote of the first book in the series, and Stella got up my nose then, too. The mysteries and sense of place are so strong that I could ignore her for the first couple of books. Thanks for the thumbs up on the new look!


    Margot--I read about a lot of characters who bug me for one reason or another, but every once in a blue moon, one pushes a Cathy Hot Button. I think you undertand what I mean! LOL Actually, the LT widget was there from the beginning. For some strange reason it didn't want to play for over 24 hours! :(

    Anna--You're welcome. Hopefully Stella won't push any of your buttons!

    Cathy--Ditto what I said to Anna! :)


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