cover image Cold Comfort

Cold Comfort

Scott Mackay. Carroll & Graf Publishers, $23 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-7867-0507-8

This convoluted mystery is crippled by hackneyed dialogue and labored clue placement, and a less-than-compelling hero. Toronto cop Barry Gilbert investigates when the frozen body of Cheryl Latham is found on a city street. Although there's a gunshot wound in chest, the cause of death was hypothermia. A dead parrot is found in Latham's apartment. Also uncovered in Cheryl's life is a wealthy husband, a stepfather who had died under suspicious circumstances years before, and various trailer-trash stepbrothers. Another stepfather is a powerful politician who may have been the link connecting her to a money laundering racket. Gilbert discovers that Cheryl was beaten up as a child, and that her last romantic liaison appears to have been with a private security cop who was once Gilbert's partner. This information rolls out in workmanlike fashion, though keeping the extended family members straight is something of a chore; weary readers will care little for the revelations that come with an airport shoot-out and lead to the case's resolution. (Aug.)