Review of Where The Ice Falls by J.E. Barnard

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Vanessa Westermann

· 2 min read

Where The Ice Falls is the second book in the Falls Mysteries series. Publisher: Dundurn – August 10th, 2019

The Falls Mysteries series are small-town psychological thrillers set in Calgary, the center of Canada’s oil industry. The novels follow three women as they deal with job loss, divorce, illness, domestic violence and murder. Where The Ice Falls revisits ex-Mountie Lacey McCrae six months after the events in When The Flood Falls and introduces an intriguing new character, named Zoe.

In Where The Ice Falls, Zoe and her teenage daughter discover a frozen corpse at her boss’s mountain chalet, just as they’re about to start their Christmas holidays. The dead man is Eric, an intern at the oil company where Zoe works. Lacey is living with her friend Dee, who hopes to return to her role as successful real estate agent, after recuperating from an injury, by making a quick sale of the chalet during the festive season. The frozen body in the woodshed, however, complicates matters.

Although no longer a Mountie, Lacey has just completed her Victims Services training, and is asked to provide support to those affected by Eric’s death. Inconsistencies in the case point to murder, and Lacey starts investigating but the clock is ticking. Dee needs to sell the chalet before their joint finances get so dire that she has to sell the roof over their own heads instead. It’s up to Lacey to track a merciless killer through the winter wilderness. I have to admit, there was one point in the story when I felt Lacey could have put the clues together faster, but this was nonetheless a gripping read that had me turning the pages!

Woven into the plot are ethical issues related to medical assistance in dying, as well as topics relevant to the MeToo Movement, such as sexual assault and gender equality in the workplace. One aspect that I enjoyed immensely about the Falls Mysteries series, is Barnard’s skill in portraying characters who offer unusual perspectives on the crime. In When The Flood Falls, Lacey receives help from Jan, a woman with a mysterious illness that often leaves her suffering from debilitating fatigue. In Where The Ice Falls, Lacey is given tips from Zoe who swears they came from a ghost, resulting in particularly chilling scenes. Both Jan and Zoe are outsiders, struggling to fit in. Lacey herself left the RCMP after experiencing domestic violence, because she could no longer work as a Mountie in a “police brotherhood who protect[s] male officers first”. These female characters lend each other support and strength, against the odds.

I received an ARC from the author, in exchange for my honest feedback.

I had the pleasure of chatting with JE Barnard about the Falls Mysteries, her outlining process and what inspired her passion for crime. Read the interview HERE.

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About Vanessa Westermann

Vanessa is a Canadian crime writer. She is the author of Cover Art and other books. At the heart of all of her stories are strong female protagonists.

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