Josh Lanyon’s Winter Kill takes us to a small village called Nearby and drops us right in the middle of the unraveling of a quiet tourist attraction turned killing ground. When bodies begin piling up, the local sheriff calls in the FBI to assist her and the three deputies who are the law in the sleepy little town. Enter one Special Agent Adam Darling who begins to set Deputy Sheriff Rob Haskell’s world even further off kilter.
The attraction between the two is instantaneous and surprising to both. These are men who take their pleasure rarely and almost never come back for seconds. Loners at heart, both have erected walls around their emotions, Adam more so than Rob. Where Rob uses humor to deflect and shield his real emotions, Adam hides behind an almost “robotic” façade that keeps Rob and many others at an arm’s length. However, when the hunt for a serial killer and the possibility of another heats up, both men may very well be in danger and it’s this that causes them both to shift their priorities and consider the idea that maybe they can have more than a one night stand.
On the surface, Winter Kill was much like the clever fare often served up by this author. The novel boasts an intricate plot with multiple twists and turns laying the groundwork for potential violence that could threaten the life of one of the well-drawn main characters. There is to this story a slow, almost lazy build, which was much in keeping with the idea of a sleepy winter resort town that saw its main action in the summer season. Rob embodied that mentality, never wanting to look too deeply at the idea that one of the neighbors he pledged to keep safe may indeed be a cold bloodied killer. But beneath all the clever quips he threw at Darling was a keen mind that chewed relentlessly at the mystery surrounding the growing body count.
Adam Darling, on the other hand, simply wanted to somehow come back from a career-ruining op that went badly, resulting in the loss of a life he swore to keep safe. Now on what he refers to as “morgue duty,” Adam approaches the town of Nearby and its law enforcers with a rather cold skepticism and the firm belief that despite his being physically attracted to Rob, a relationship is out of the question. So, when he begins to have more than just a passing lust for Rob, Adam is thrown off balance and in dangerous territory.
While this story had all the markings of another well-written Josh Lanyon mystery, there was definitely something a little different. Regularly known for more mystery than romance in his novels, Winter Kill felt more like a love story wrapped around a “whodunit.” I appreciated the slight deviation from the norm by this author particularly since Lanyon has built such a solid library of intricate mystery novels. Despite the unusual happy ever after feelings in this novel, the intricate plot and worthy side characters combined to make this a good read for any mystery lover.