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by K. J. Erickson
St Martin's Minotaur, June 2004
260 pages
ISBN: 031231471X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Marshall 'Mars' Bahr has left the politics and the workload of his days as a homicide detective on the Minneapolis police department and has taken on a new assignment in the department's cold case squad.

He and his partner, computer whiz Nettie, are busy getting settled into their new offices and trying to get a handle on the nature of the huge task they have taken upon themselves. Many people don't welcome new investigations into cold case files. Sometimes a new investigation shows up incompetence by the original investigators, and always it stirs up sad emotions for the families of the victims.

Mars is happy with certain aspects of life, his new condo, and the fact that he has full custody of his precocious son, Chris. But with Chris off to visit his mother in Cleveland, Mars has a lot of time to think and he isn't sure about his new career. He needs a case to immerse himself in, something to get him truly involved.

Deciding to look into a string of murders at convenience stores, he comes across the unusual case of Andrea Bergstad. A 17-year-old high school senior, Andrea was working the late shift at the One-Stop in rural Minnesota when she disappeared. No body was ever found and there was no trace of Andrea. She disappeared 19 years ago.

When Mars meets the investigating officer, now retired, he is impressed with the man's competence and his dedication to his long career. Sig was always disappointed at the lack of evidence in Andrea's disappearance and enthusiastically offers his help to the cold case investigators.

They convince a TV crime show to present Andrea's case to the nation and to ask for anyone to come forward with information. This turns out to have farther-ranging consequences than Mars ever realized when he first opened the cold case folder on Andrea.

The author has written three previous Mars Bahr novels. Mars is a complex and interesting character. A dedicated police officer and a caring father, Mars has no time for the petty politics and many aspects of the job -- in his mind he truly is there to protect and defend. These qualities make him an outstanding officer but not an especially good team player. He doesn't have much luck with the ladies, but the light of his life is his son.

The books just keep getting better (and they were very good to begin with) and this one certainly has enough twists and turns and a shocking ending to make it definitely worth seeking out. Read the series in order if you can, but don't be shy about starting with this one.

Reviewed by Lorraine Gelly, June 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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