A Colder Kind of Death by Gail Bowen

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BowenAColderKindOfDeathNarrator: Lisa Bunting

Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press Inc. (2015)

Length: 7 hours 33 mins

Series: Book 4 A Joanne Kilbourn Mystery

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Note: While this is Book 4 in the series, it works mostly well as a stand alone. There are definitely some character backstories that I was a bit muddled on, but in regards to the main plot, they dd not matter.

Set in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, Joanne Kilbourn is a parent, a professor, a TV panelist, and a widow. Now her past comes back to her with the news that Kevin Tarpley, the man who killed her husband, Ian, six years ago, was shot to death in the exercise yard of a Saskatchewan prison. Odd as that is, it pales in comparison to the unexpected photo of a young mother with her baby in Ian’s old wallet. Then Maureen, Kevin’s wife, shows up for cocktail drinks at one of Joanne’s local haunts and ends up dead. Joanne starts digging into her husband’s past in order to unravel her current mystery.

I can see why this series is so popular! I really enjoyed this Canadian mystery. Joanne is a very interesting character with her multiple professions and her single parenting skills. Toss in the 6-year-old case of her husband’s murder with the recent death of Maureen, and you have quite the engaging story. Joanne was really caught in this balancing act – does she ask the questions and possibly dig up hurtful information or does she let things lie and cherish the memories of the husband she knew?

Even though Maureen ends up dead in the first quarter of the book, I found her character rather seductive. She obviously has quite the ego on her. Even after her demise, we continue to learn about her as Joanne digs into the past. Maureen indeed was quite the little manipulator, but Joanne has to figure out why and to what ends.

Then there is that odd photo in her husband’s old wallet. Was this a secret lover of his? His baby? I really felt for Joanne as she struggled with what to do over the photo. Should she dig into it, hoping that there was some benign reason he had this photo? Or should she let things lie, maintaining the memory of her husband? This aspect of the story really shows Joanne in a very human light as she has some ungracious thoughts about her dead husband.

The story builds cleverly upon itself as one clue after another is dragged into the light. However, they don’t all appear to be part of the same puzzle. Joanne struggles to connect them all and it’s not until near the end that things become clear. There’s also some drama at the end as the real killer feels trapped and out of choices. It was a real spin up with a final, rather messy ending. Joanne will need therapy. I was so caught up in this book, I listened to it all in one day. I plan to go back to Book 1 and enjoy the rest of the series in sequential order to get the most out of it.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Audiobook Jukebox.

Narration: Lisa Bunting was a really good pick as narrator. She was the perfect Joanne in my head. I liked her male and female character voices, as well as her regional accents. While I’m no expert on Canadian Native American accents, I can say that Bunting’s performance matched my experience with Native American accents here in New Mexico. I also liked her kid voices for the various kids in Joanne’s household.

What I Liked: A murder mystery that digs up the past; Joanne is successfully juggling several things in her life; the cops have to rule out Joanne as a suspect; she questions her dead husband’s integrity; plenty of clues but I wasn’t sure where they were going; a logical and dramatic ending; great narration.

What I Disliked: There were a few things with Joanne’s kids that I didn’t get but I think that is because I jumped into Book 4 and haven’t read the previous books.

What Others Think:

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