Monday, April 12, 2021

Review: On Cold Ground by D.S. Butler

by D.S. Butler
Release Date: March 25th 2021
2021 Thomas & Mercer
Kindle Edition; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-1542017596
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Police Procedural
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

When Detective Karen Hart hears a scream echoing out of beautiful Lincoln Cathedral one snowy evening, she is the first officer on the scene. In the chapel a man lies murdered, a bloody cross carved into his forehead.

The twisted killing sends this close-knit community into shock. And a note to the police from the murderer, signed by ‘The Cleanser’, confirms their worst fears: this sadistic slaying is the first of many. The ritual killings will never stop until Hart uncovers the murderer’s ungodly motive.
My Thoughts
On Cold Ground is the fifth entry in the DS Karen Hart series, and I enjoyed it as it completed a secondary arc that began with the death of her husband and daughter a few years ago.  I don't mind it when a story continues for several books, but I do have an issue when it drags on and on, and I was worried that something like that would happen in this series.  Luckily, it all merged rather well, even if you have to kind of suspend your belief in what happened a little bit and just go with it.   

I, for one, am glad that this book dealt with the police corruption far more openly that in previous books. When Karen's boss comes in the cross hairs of a killer, a new boss is brought in to deal with the situation, and unfortunately, the cliches began as soon as the man entered the building, the red herrings being so obvious I was sort of chuckling my way through them.  This is such a common trope that it's getting old, fast.  However, I do like the support that Karen gets from her various superiors as well as from other people as she tries to investigate the current case she is working.  

Karen, herself, is far from perfect, and I usually tend to prefer my main characters flawed as it makes them more interesting.  She is growing on me as a character and I think I am finally seeing some growth although I do feel there is still a lot more the author can do with her character.  That being said, Karen did lose her family a little while ago, so it's understandable that she has trust issues and doesn't want to be pushed into doing things she is not yet ready for; grief is not something that ever goes away and I am grateful the author has taken this into consideration.  

The other characters have a lot of potential that has not yet come to fruition, but the series is still developing and I am hoping they will have their moment to shine.  I have always liked Sophie and I would like to see her become something more than someone who is portrayed as a 'yes man' and only interested in how she is perceived by others, someone who will stand up for herself and be more confident in her abilities.  

The mystery itself wasn't too complicated, but I did find it interesting, and I like how it was interwoven with the corruption scandal.  If you are someone who reads a lot of police procedurals, you will probably figure this out quite early in the book although the author does try to lay out some interesting twists and turns.  It was more the motive that took me bit longer to figure out.  The author has an easy style of writing that does tend to draw you in although some of the dialogue does tend to make me cringe.  

On Cold Ground was one of those books that overall, I enjoyed very much, but when you take it apart, does have some problems.  There were some plot lines I just had to grit my teeth over and go with them, but it made it easier to enjoy the book.  I do think the characters need some development as they can be a bit one-dimensional and while I enjoy this author's writing style, the dialogue can be a bit stilted. Overall, a good book and one I would recommend.