Vicki Delany writes standalones and the lighthearted Klondike mysteries, but my favorites remain the Constable Molly Smith mysteries set in Delany's Trafalgar, British Columbia. These mysteries combine the best of traditional village mysteries and police procedurals. If you add in the fascinating setting and the wonderful characters, these are books that should be better known than they are. A Cold White Sun, the sixth in the series, could be read without having read earlier novels, but why would you want to do that?
In Trafalgar, it's March, and school's just out for spring break. Cathy Lindsay, a high school English teacher, takes off for her morning walk with her dog, but never returns home. Instead, she's found lying n her own blood on the walking trail, the victim of a shooter. Constable Molly Smith is the first on the scene, but she's soon relegated to guard duty when Detective Sergeant John Winters shows up. However, the Trafalgar police need help from the entire department and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Was Cathy Lindsay the intended target? Or, is it a police department's worst nightmare, a random shooting? As Trafalgar neighborhoods close down in fear, it's up to the police to find a hidden killer.
Trafalgar, British Columbia may be a small town, but it's a tourist town that attracts sports enthusiasts and visitors. That always makes it more difficult for the police to solve cases. The killer could be someone Molly meets daily, or someone new to the community. One of Delany's strengths is her ability to connect random people and events, and bring them together in a successful case. However, a successful solution for the police doesn't always mean it's satisfactory. That means it's realistic. When Molly complains, Winters wisely answers. "It's not up to us to feel good, I'm sorry to say. We did our jobs."
It's not always necessary to start at the beginning of a mystery series. As I said, you could read A Cold White Sun as a standalone. But, it's so much more interesting to watch Constable Molly Smith struggle with her identity as a police officer in her hometown, to observe the changes in the community itself, to get to know the people; Molly's family, Winters and his wife, the police department. Start with In the Shadow of the Glacier. Anyone who likes small town traditional mysteries combined with police procedurals will not be sorry.
Vicki Delany's website is www.vickidelany.com
A Cold White Sun by Vicki Delany. Poisoned Pen Press. 2013. ISBN 9781464201585 (hardcover), 296p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The author sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.