cover image Ice Water

Ice Water

Sally Gunning. Pocket Books, $5.5 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-671-76005-2

A sniper has gone on a pre-Christmas shooting spree on the Nantucket-like island of Nashtoba, killing the popular bait-shop owner, Newby Dillingham, and wounding another islander. But that's not all that is troubling amateur sleuth Peter Bartholomew: he is also conflicted over the reappearance of his ex-wife, Connie, who was kissing Newby under the mistletoe when he was gunned down. With nothing more to go on than the spent bullets, which have been obsolete for decades, Peter and police chief Will McOwat piece together the identity of the murderer after making their way through a maze of motives, including a condominium land grab targeting Newby's turf. Gunning ( Under Water ) augments his tale with lengthy musings on the nature of Christmas, family and life on Nashtoba. Unfortunately, as a professional sleuth, McOwat is a cliche, useless and outdone by the amateur, and even in Bartholomew's case the detection is on the level of Sleuthing 101. Moreover, despite the microscopic focus trained on them, Bartholomew's emotional conflicts remain two-dimensional. (Jan.)