4 stars out of 5I've read two other books in this series - this is the 13th - and enjoyed them. The main characters, Sheriff Jenna Alton and her professional and personal partner, David Kane, are likable, skilled people with intriguing, secretive backgrounds who are, well, fun to read about. So naturally, I was looking forward to diving into this one. But for several reasons, this one doesn't quite measure up.
On the plus side, the story itself held my interest from beginning to end. The setting is an expansive mountaintop resort in the middle of winter, at which a convention of current and would-be writers, agents and publishers is happening. Alton and Kane are here to follow up on a gone-missing report of one of the most successful agents; they hang around after her dead, frozen body is found in a pond near her chalet. Also onsite is another familiar character, Medical Examiner Shane Wolfe, who is accompanied by his two grown daughters Emily and Julie - both of whom play major roles this time out.
As they and other members of their team work toward narrowing down suspects - not an easy task given the well-known nastiness of the dead woman - another victim turns up in an under-construction chalet, together with a clue that ties the two murders together. Given that blizzard conditions prevent all but emergency comings and goings, it becomes clear that the murderer is in their midst; and when yet another body gets zapped, they realize they're dealing with a serial killer.
Everyone, including Wolfe's daughters, get their heads together to speculate on the killer's motive in hopes of preventing yet another ugly incident. As a team, they all work well together - even honoring professional responsibilities during a spat between two lovers that would make a junior high student cringe - but the killer's identity remains elusive. As an aside, though, I had to wonder why on earth Kane is sometimes called "Uncle Dave" and other times "Uncle Kane" by the girls - like, who calls an uncle by his last name)? But hey, maybe that was explained in a previous book.
In between "regular" chapters, readers get the musings from the clearly deranged killer himself (or herself - the investigative team realizes that the methods of death could be accomplished by either sex). It is here, too, that readers learn the killer has set sights not only on a select list of victims, but on a team member as well. Can the good guys and gals figure out who the culprit is before the unthinkable happens and one of their own goes down for the count?
As this exciting race to the finish plays out, it's clear that pains are being taken to keep readers guessing whether the killer is male or female. That process, sorry to say, triggered one of my grammar hot buttons: Pairing a plural pronoun with a singular antecedent. An example (my words): "I saw someone get off the elevator, but I didn't recognize 'them'." No, no, a thousand times NO (which has to be close to the number of times it happens in the book, which is why I'm compelled to mention it; once or twice I could overlook). That took a big bite out of my enjoyment of this book, although I still recommend it to others because it's a well-thought-out, interesting story. Thanks to the publisher, via NetGalley, for allowing me to read and review a pre-release copy.
Fallen Angel by D.K. Hood (Bookouture, November 2021); 232 pp.