ONLINE SUMMARY: It’s the dead of winter in Minnesota, and Shay O’Hanlon can’t wait to close up her coffee shop and get out of town with her girlfriend, Minneapolis cop JT Bordeaux. But when she receives a call informing her that her dad is missing, Shay’s plans for a romantic getaway are put on ice.
Figuring her dad is on one of his periodic benders, Shay is shocked to learn that his gun has been used in a murder. With the dead man found in a giant ice cube unable to provide any answers, Shay and her quirky friends are bound and deter- mined to find her father—and the real killer—before the trail turns cold.
MY REVIEW: It’s been a couple months since I read this one, so this may be a little short on details. Still, it’ll give you a good idea why you should read it which is the purpose of a review, after all. (Unless it’s to steer you away, of course, which I assure you is not the case here.) Having read and recommended the previous three books in the series, I expected …Ice Block to be an equally enjoyable and well-written novel and I was pleased, though not at all surprised, to find that was indeed the case.
The actual writing, what Janet Burroway in Writing Fiction calls the mechanical part of a writer’s craft, is again solid. There are none of those distracting errors in grammar, spelling, and syntax that make me want to pull out my already thinning hair. While that could just be a sign of competent copy-editing, my instincts say Chandler’s writing doesn’t need much technical cleaning up. That a writer lets a work go to print with such mistakes intact shows, in my opinion, a lack of respect for the reader. Again, no hint of that, here.
The plot here is just as twisty/turn-y as the other books in the series. Previously, we encountered a part of protagonist Shay O’Hanlon’s persona called Tenacious Protector. When anyone close to her is threatened, she immediately goes into that mode, doing whatever is needed to keep them safe. The fact that in this case it’s her own flesh and blood, her dad, who’s in trouble ratchets the tension up a notch.
Complicating things when her father may be involved in a murder — or two — is Shay’s realization that he could actually be capable of such acts. See, Pete O’Hanlon”s known for periodically falling off the wagon. Pretty far off, in fact. His temper, fuelled by what the Irish refer to as too much of the drink taken, might, in the right circumstances, lead him to eschew common sense.
As good as the stories themselves are, and I assure you, the mysteries are quite entertaining, it’s the characters Chandler creates that are the best part of the novels. Works out well cos, no matter how riveting the plot, it’s the characters which hook me and keep me coming back for more. This installment of The Shay O’Hanlon Capers features the same quirky but not quite completely over-the-top cast which made capers 1-3 so much fun. As a bit of lagniappe, an interesting new character is introduced, one I believe we’re sure to meet again in subsequent works.
In short, Chip Off the Ice Block Murder is a very well-written and extremely enjoyable reading experience. The plot definitely keeps you turning the pages and the characters are people you’d love to meet in real life. To be even more succint: Great fun! Read it and find out for yourself.