These are my comments from an email book group discussion. They seem out of context because that's exactly where they are...
(On all detectives having upsetting pasts) I think books need to be about interesting people, and it's possible
that people with "upsetting pasts" are, all other things being equal,
more interesting to us as readers than those without. That said, off
the top of my head I can only think of Matt Scudder that fits the
description. Who else is there?
(On Alex's emotional baggage)
I get the impression that before the book opened he had more or less
dealt with the situation by running away to the cabin, by burying the
past, he'd forgotten all about it. The guilt wasn't part of his day to
day life any longer.
Seeing a dead body (and a rather gruesomely executed one at that) and
getting involved in a murder case has brought the buried past to life
for him in the present day. Added to that is that the murderer of his
partner seems to be involved in this series of murders too. That's
pretty frightening stuff to come up against so long after the first
I don't think that he should blame himself for the past, I can't see how
he or Franklin could have done anything different. But I can see that
he would blame himself, wouldn't anybody wonder if they had just done
something slightly different that day then perhaps everything would have
turned out different? (I'll stop that train of thought before I drift
into chaos theory and bore you all to death...)
I think "running away" was a reasonable thing to do. It didn't sound
like he had much going for him in Detroit, his job was kaputt, his wife
had left him; I think going and living in his fathers cabin in (not
quite) the middle of nowehere was a fair response to the situation. It
seemed to have worked out fairly well up until now.
I don't really think he needs any "help". He's certainly got problems
but I don't think they are insurmountable or long lasting. I think once
this case is over he'll be ok again, and probably better off than before
since I hope some of his demons, to do with Rose, will be exorcised by
the end of the book.
I like him so far, he seems like a decent man and he didn't exactly ask
to get tangled up in the situation he's in.
The murders had better have something to do with Rose else I'm going to
be mightily annoyed at the amount of flashbacks to the Rose case that
we're getting! I don't think Alex is obsessed, just upset and scared by
the connections to his shooting.
I think it's a setup of some kind, but I can't figure out who would know
enough to do so as Alex doesn't think he's told anyone. Maybe he's been
talking in his sleep to Sylvia. That seems like a reasonable guess to
me, and she's nasty enough that i don't mind her murdering people.
(On how I would catch the killer)
Oh, set up a trap with me as the bait, lure the killer in to it, then
get them to confess all by professing to know exactly what happened when
I don't. No, perhaps not. I'll gather everybody within a hundred mile
radius into my cabin and recreate the crime - the murderer will be so
upset by the errors I make that they'll have to pipe up to correct me
and then I'll have them. No, can't see that working either! Damn, it's
back to detective school for me I'm going to get myself killed at this
(On sense of place) From the snowy pic on the cover I thought the book was going to be nice
and cool and an escape from the summer sun, but I haven't really got any
sense of place or chilliness from the book. Apart from the log cabins,
which sound rather pleasant, I haven't got an image of any of the
outside places in my head.
Purchased on 13th April 2000.