A Colder Kind of Death
by Gail Bowen
McClelland and Stuart, 1994
Joanne Kilbourn #4
I am very much enjoying this Canadian series of novels, which combine a light touch in the writing style with somewhat hard-hitting and deeply emotional themes. Jo Kilbourn is currently a professor of politics at a university in Regina: she’s the widow of the ex-attorney general of her political party and has four children, two of them grown up and one (the youngest) adopted. The first three books introduced Jo and her circle of friends and political associates. Here, however, the mood shifts as Jo has to decide whether to confront the few-years-ago death of her husband, Ian, or whether to continue carrying on her life having put it behind her.
The stimulus for this decision is the death of Ian’s convicted killer, Kevin Tarpley, in a drive-by shooting at the jail where he’s incarcerated – a highly unusual crime. Jo discovers that Tarpley had found God before he died and has sent her some biblical texts. In the aftermath of Tarpley’s death, Jo has to face a very unpleasant person, soon finding that she herself is prime suspect in a crime. Reluctantly, therefore, Jo decides to find out the details of how Ian died, and to talk to the half-dozen friends who were present at the fund-raising party he attended on the fatal night, in an attempt both to achieve closure and to clear her name.
The novel is compelling as Jo both confronts her sadness and finds out more about her husband’s last few hours. There is also a good mystery plot and the usual mixture of domestic details (just the right amount) as Jo has to keep her family’s lives going, juggle her various careers (she’s also a TV panellist), as well as cope with her own mixed feelings. In the end, the questions about how Ian died are resolved, but I was left puzzled as to who was responsible for the two present-day crimes (though a solution can be inferred, there are questions left hanging).
I bought this book.
Read another review of it at: Reactions to Reading.
Posts about Gail Bowen, including reviews of some later books in the series, at: Mysteries and More from Saskatchewan
Author’s website, includes a list of the books of the series, in reading order.
My reviews of the earlier books in the series: Deadly Appearances (#1), Murder at the Mendel (#2) and The Wandering Soul Murders (#3).