January Thaw by Jess Lourey

January ThawMira James is still reeling from the events of December Dread when she discovers yet another dead body — this one under the frozen lake the whole town has gathered around for Winter Wonderland festivities.  Does this death have anything to do with the recent gang activity in the area?  Does it have something to do with a crime that happened in the area shortly after the Civil War?  Or, does it have to do with something else entirely?

As much as I love this series, this book fell a little short for me.  Just a little and it may be in part because December Dread was so GOOD.  It felt like there was too much going on this time — to begin with, the Bad Brad storyline didn’t do anything for me.  It was mildly funny, yes, but he’s not an interesting character; I would much rather see Mira spend more time with Sid and Nancy, or even Jed.  And, after loving Mrs. Berns in DD, I wasn’t as fond of her this time around.  Surprisingly, I did like Kennie and Gary Wohnt.  Finally, there were a couple of incidents that seemed like they should mean SOMETHING, but if they did, we didn’t discover the meaning.

Those are minor quibbles though.  There were two major things that I didn’t like.  I hate it when characters leave cryptic “in case anything bad happens to me” messages.  It doesn’t ring true.  If I thought something bad was going to happen to me, I can tell you right now that there are several people who would know exactly what they needed to know, no sleuthing required.  I also hate storylines in which the girl sees her guy with another woman, jumps to conclusions, which of course are WRONG because her guy is a GOOD guy and they don’t cheat.  There are many reasons I hate this storyline but for the sake of brevity we’ll just stick with it’s overdone.

That said, there were several things I did like about this trip to Battle Lake.  As always, Lourey creates a strong sense of place.  I like the new museum opening in town, the connection of the present with the past, AND the possibility of a ghost.  I loved the interactions between Mira and Curtis and I mostly enjoyed the banter between Mira and Wohnt.  Mostly.  Mira did seem a little too oblivious to the situation, but that’s okay, I guess — it’s taken me several books to see him as the character he’s become too.



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