Friday, February 08, 2013


The cover of A SLOW COLD DEATH is an interesting choice, since the entirety of the story takes place in Pasadena. But since our hero, Lori Barrow, has fled Canada ("The only safe month in Montreal was July, and it was all alone, a sad pitiful little month standing up to eleven cruel others.") for a tenure-track position at "Superior Technical Institute" (I think we all know which university this is based on), it's oddly appropriate. Cold makes an appearance in several ways, actually, beyond the death of a researcher in a "cold room." Lori's ex-girlfriend dumped her rather than live in frigid Canada, Lori's research involves ice core analysis, and of course, a "slow cold death" is a theory for the potential end of the universe, appropriate in a novel in which physics has center stage.

Lori was just a child when she graduated from STI, and now she's returning as an assistant professor. Two of her former graduate school friends have preceded her to LA; Abby McRae, who abandoned grad school to become a lawyer, and Carol, who works at the LPR Lab (also called the LEPERLab). Lori has a reputation for being around death, so it's not that surprising when a grad student who is forced on her ends up dead, locked in the cold room. Lori is convinced that politics are behind the murder, especially when bodies begin piling up. And the politics are a minefield, giving us plenty of suspects.

I found this novel a delight to read! Besides the intricate mystery and the suspense of having a killer loose in the physics department, the process of competing for a multi-million-dollar grant is a surprising nail-biter. I've never been so on edge when reading about professors trying to get the department head's signature before FedEx closes. There are plenty of red herrings, high-speed chases, and double-crosses to keep the pages turning, and Lori is a fun character.

Recommended to any mystery fan with experience with acadamia.

Source disclosure: I received an advance copy from the publisher.

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