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Nikki Stern
Author
FREEZE BEFORE BURNING
Nikki Stern, author

Macabre Murderer Ices True Crime Devotees

What do a bartender, a priest, and a librarian have in common? They all work in New York City. They’re all true crime fans. And they’re all dead, courtesy of a predator with a chilling need for respect.

Lieutenant Sam Tate is in the Big Apple to investigate her own tragic past and reconnect with remaining family. She’s pulled onto the case of the Dry Ice Killer, as the malicious murderer is known, by an old friend, now an NYPD homicide detective. She’s also drawn to the more than professional interest of his handsome counterpart from Queens. As the body count increases, public unease also rises. Sam’s penchant for privacy is tested by unwanted media attention. Worse, she may be the target of an exceptionally cold-hearted killer.

Reviews
Kirkus Reviews

Maryland cop Sam is visiting her aunt in Queens, where she runs into Ron Zielinski, the brother of Sam’s former Maryland colleague who tells her about a startling homicide case. Someone viciously murdered two people, burning them from the inside by force-feeding them dry ice. Locals ask Sam to join the investigation as consultant; after all, she’s already solved two serial-killer cases—one that the FBI had been working on for years. Sam looks for a connection between the victims, but it seems the only thing they share is an interest in Deep Freeze, a true-crime podcast. She soon suspects the killer is one of the “web sleuths” who frequent the podcast’s members-only chat room. Identifying those sleuths, however, is a challenge all its own; each keeps a tight grip on their anonymity. Sam, meanwhile, has another, secret agenda for being in Queens. She wants more details on the decades-old mass murder involving her family and aims to prove one man has yet to pay for the crime. Stern’s recurring hero, who last appeared in Bird in Hand(2020), is a capable, humble lieutenant; she never tries to steal the limelight. Conversations shine in their subtlety; characters laugh uneasily or say nothing at all. Furthermore, these scenes showcase bright personalities and superbly contrast with chatroom transcripts. The solid mystery comprises quite a few suspects and drives a narrative that relies on neither profanity-fueled dialogue nor graphic violence. This installment will surely net Sam new fans who’ll seek out her earlier novels and anticipate anything she may do in the future.
An absorbing murder mystery with an astute sleuth

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