Cover Image: The Ice Killer

The Ice Killer

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Member Reviews

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Ross Greenwood, and Boldwood Books for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Returning for the latest (and last) in the DI John Barton series, I turned to Ross Greenwood and this gritty police procedural. Known for writing the dual narratives of cops and killers, Greenwood seeks to pull readers onto the streets of Peterborough and tell a tale. While the delivery is there, some may say it lags a bit. Decent enough to keep my interest as the trilogy comes to an end!

After convalescing from injury during one of his recent cases, DI John Barton is thrust into the chaos that is known as Major Crimes in Peterborough. His first day back sees Barton sent into the DCI chair, replacing his superior who has taken maternity leave. Now, DCI Barton not only has to learn the ropes of the job, but also help hone the next generation of inspectors to see how they might make the leap into a more independent role within the police department. 

Elsewhere, Ellen Toole is struggling to stay afloat. Her mother is ill and there is little that can be done. Working her dead-end job, Ellen does the best she can, but cannot help wishing she had it better. After her mother’s death, Ellen slips into a state that sees stress levels mount and self-care dwindle, which fuels poor judgment and a return to some of her old ways. As Ellen’s choices blur, so do some of her inhibitions and she finds herself engaging with people from her school days. This has violent and deadly ramifications, which only trigger Ellen’s mental health issues.

Acting DCI Barton seems to be making headway in the department, hoping to forge a new path all his own. When the team are called out to the scene of a triple murder, things look fairly gruesome. However, these are by no means salt of the earth people, leaving Barton and his team to wonder how much of an effort must be put into the investigation. Still, there are dead bodies and some video to indicate that a burly man might be behind it, so it is worth at least giving it all a try.

After Ellen lashed out at some of her old mates, she tries to justify the act as defence against rape. She cannot believe that she’s acted so harshly, but holds firm that past treatment led to this and kept her from being able to hold her temper. Ellen appears ready to take back her life and right all the wrongs that befell her, not caring who stands in her way. Medication be damned, she refuses to let herself be subservient to anyone!

Acting DCI Barton learns of a DNA hit that might help lead the team towards the killer, though it is familial. This takes the case down some interesting rabbit holes, as they discover the hit belongs to a man who had a psychotic break and turned his rage on others. Could this trait have been passed along to his offspring? Barton hones in on one Ellen Toole, but has little to concretely connect her to the case. He wants to walk a fine line, knowing that if the team strikes too soon, it could mean ruining the case and leaving them with nothing.

As Ellen comes to terms with what she’s done, she is not prepared to go without a fight. Her own mental illness and recent revelations about a past that was anything but calm leaves her ready to scapegoat anyone she can in order to stay two steps ahead of the cops and a certain arrest. What happens next is anyone’s guess. It’s up to the courts to decide, if it ever gets that far!

I have come to enjoy the past novels in Ross Greenwood’s series. This one worked well for me, though I did have a sense that there were some drawbacks that kept me from enjoying it as much as I would have liked. Decent characters and a plot that had potential buoyed the novel, though series fans will have to think on it a but before committing themselves to praising this piece. Not sure this was the series swan song Greenwood may have wanted.

DI John Barton returns for another decent protagonist role. He slides into his new job with ease and is able to keep the reader interested with everything that he has going on. His personal life seems to be reflected a tad more in this piece, though his rise in rank does see him less prominently displayed in this piece. There is some development of his character, but nothing stunning, which is somewhat saddening, as he ends the series back where he started.

Greenwood offers up a decent number of strong secondary characters, including Ellen Toole. Each brings their own flavouring to the story and keeps the reader entertained throughout. I did enjoy learning about their personal struggles and development, some of whom have played key roles in the past two cases, while others are new to the scene. Greenwood paints the Ellen story well here, tossing in those who shaped her as a person and it helps to see how her downfall was a long road to despair. 

I must compliment Roos Greenwood for tackling the thorny issue of mental health well throughout this piece. While many convicted criminals do suffer from some form of mental health, it is also something many in the general public have to face daily. While there are dark and menacing sides, Greenwood tries not to tie mental health with criminality. He also tackles the inherited argument of mental illness and whether a parent can pass traits on. Interesting internal discussion for any reader curious enough to pick up the thread.

The story itself had moments of brilliance and others that lagged. There was a strong underlying plot, which permitted the reader to see both the killer and the hunt for her developing simultaneously. This developed in short, alternating chapters that kept the book’s momentum and offered varying sides of the same story arc. However, even with these ingredients, there was a sluggishness to the piece that I could not shake. Greenwood’s use of the ‘know who we hunt for’ has worked well in the past, but seemed to come up short. I found the story dragged at times and I just wanted the Ellen-Barton clash to occur, leaving the courts to offer the final verdict and see if there were twists therein. Perhaps it was just me, but this story seemed much longer than it needed to be and kept the reader tapping their finger between page turns. With the end of the trilogy and Greenwood promising a fresh standalone next, this may be a chance to tap the refresh button and explore new areas of the genre.

Kudos, Mr. Greenwood, for a valiant effort. I’m keen to see if things continue with this series and how you’ll take the piece in new directions, should some of the feedback mirror my own.
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My thanks to Boldwood Books, the author and Netgalley.
I'm going to be a lone dissenter in this review, unlike other readers, I ended up with a strong dislike of this story. I quit 70% in. 
What a bunch of truly idiotic and miserable people. I did enjoy the beginning, somewhat. Mostly, the killer was someone I found difficult to sympathize with. Probably not a book I'd recommend. Definitely not an author I'll ever read again.
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“Once, her heart was empty. Now it's filled with ice…”
Ellen has her issues. Born Sue Ellen and named after a TV character, she has just lost her mother and no one seems to care about her. Her only friend is Scarlett that she knew from school who has done rather well for herself as she knew she would and Ellen has no chance of stepping into her shoes. When she meets someone from work in the pub he persuades her to go back to his to listen to their band video. What transpires is something she never would have thought in a million years or would she?. Meanwhile DI Barton has a vacancy above him  and in true efficiency standards he is now doing both roles whilst encouraging his two younger sargeants to step up their inspector exams. Three bodies are found in a run down house, each with a potential weapon by them. A tall man was seen leaving the building however things don't quite add up and the hunt is on for a potential murderer. When there are more murders with no witnesses and no clues to a perpetrator Barton and his team have their work cut out. I enjoyed this - it was slightly different from the norm as we know from the beginning who the perpetrator is (or do we?) and some is written in the first person from Ellen’s side of things. A very cleverly written well thought out plot with twists and turns along the way. It's almost a hybrid psychological thriller/ crime book in how the story pans out. A brilliant read that is gripping, gritty and gurt!
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Great book I absolutely love this author and this book certainly hasn’t disappointed. I’ve been kept guessing and completely gripped by this one
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Thank you NetGalley Publisher & Author for this gifted ebook!

The Ice Killer was a gripping thriller from jump street I devoured it in 24 hours that's how great this book was. 
I loved the plot this book had. The characters were real it felt like which is always great.
The different POVs was fantastic not hard to follow at all.
I went into this book not.reading the others before this.... So now.I'm going to have to find them.

Rating 4
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Great catch up with the team. I devoured this gripping story in one sitting, I sincerely hope its not the last in the series. Have enjoyed all Ross Greenwoods books,
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Ross Greenwood is a fine writer and DI John Barton is a splendid creation.  Here he is an acting DCI while his boss is on maternity leave and he is faced with a tough case in which he is struggling to link a series of murders to his prime subject.  His portrayal of Peterborough is realistic and Barton's team are an interesting set of characters.  Although officially the third in a trilogy, I very much hope that the Ice Killer will not represent the end of the line for John!
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"The Ice Killer" is the third episode in the D.I. Barton trilogy and therefore the last but author Ross Greenwood suggests in an Afterword that if there's demand he might be tempted to continue. I hope so as this has been an enjoyable and entertaining series.

Ellen has always been a wallflower, bullied at school and in the shadow of the popular girls. From school she enters a series of abusive relationships and appears to be  a magnet   for controlling men. She decides to look for closure and ask the first person to mistreat her why.
Her meeting doesn't go as planned,to put it mildly and kicks off a series of murders.
D.I. Barton ,promoted at the start of the book to   Acting  DCI Barton and the regular crew find themselves increasingly overwhelmed,then overtaken ,by events that are rapidly escalating. As the tale unwinds we see a totally different side to Ellen, as she does herself.

Like the previous books in the series this is fast paced and cleverly plotted. It does however lag slightly when it goes into detail about Barton's new role which adds nothing to the story.
That aside it's a great book,as we've come to expect from Ross Greenwood,not least it will make the reader think about right and wrong, is an eye for an eye morally right or wrong when lives have been ruined? An excellent read with a cliff-hanger ending that will divide reader's opinions.

Thanks to Ross Greenwood, Boldwood Books and Netgalley for the ARC in return for an honest review.
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443 pages

4 stars

Sue Ellen “Ellen” Vickerman is the central character in this book. We follow her first person journey. 

Acting DCI Barton, Sergeants Zander and Strange and the rest of the team catch the brutal murder of three men in a house. The evidence and sequence of events are puzzling. They were all murdered in different ways. Did they have an argument and kill one another? Was there an intruder, or friend who killed them? A neighbor reports a man leaving the house early in the morning. 

As the murders begin to multiply, the detectives ponder various possible suspects. They consider whether the man witnessed leaving from the first murders was somehow related to the woman whose dress and DNA was left behind at the scene. This idea then blossoms into into a semi-lateral investigation involving an old crime.  Could this crime be related?  

As the team hauls in a couple of suspects, all does not seem well. The story they give makes sense, but there is definitely something wrong. Barton feels it, as does Strange. 

This book is an interesting take on the mystery formula. Part first person and part third person, the combination works surprisingly well. This is a compulsive read. I just had to find out what happened. It made me very sad to read in the book that there were that many misogynistic men in Ellen's world. Perhaps it was factors of lack of education, drug habits and fatalistic outlook on life that tipped the men that way. Whatever, there were far too many of them. That seemed overdone. I appreciated the discussions about the mental health problem in England (and here in the States), especially as it applies to the police understanding. It is a huge problem and perhaps that was a factor in Mr. Greenwood's writing of this book. I really liked the way Barton treated his subordinates. They had very solid and friendly relationships. 

I was debating between 3 and 4 stars, but landed on 4 for sheer effort. I have read Mr. Greenwood in the past and recall the books as better than this one. Not so confused.  Is mental illness inherited? Mr. Greenwood makes a very good case for it, but I am left ultimately unconvinced. It remains very true that there is insufficient support for the mentally ill. 

I want to thank NetGalley and Boldwood Books for forwarding to me a copy of this good book for me to read, enjoy and review.
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A good third book in the trilogy though lengthy. There is not much of suspense as in the previous books. The different POV gives a clear picture of the DI's view but not of the ice killer's. Is she a psychopath or an avenger? The psychological therapy is insufficient and I don't think it works that way.  As a story it was good and the conclusion was satisfactory.
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Another brilliant instalment in what is shaping up to be an outstanding series. The author deals well with the devastation that serious mental illness can cause and pushes the reader to question when a victim is truly that
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I wanted to read this mystery because I hoped it would be atmospheric about murder and the cold of winter. Flashes of that do exist, “Ice crystals on her (cemetery angel) face make her expression more demonic than angelic,” but it’s not the flavor of the entire book.
I found this to be an uneven reading experience. Two voices alternate, the third person narration about the lead detective, Barton, and the first person narration of the killer. The  killer’s voice was far more interesting. Sometimes Barton came across as wooden, telling information for the reader’s benefit rather than what would be realistic dialogue, and some supposed joking between him and others rubbed me the wrong way. A wife who tells her husband he has a butt for a stomach isn’t funny. Also I felt the story went on too long. I tired of even the killer’s voice after awhile although for a long time I had rather cheered her on. Some surprises from the unreliable narrator of a killer were nice twists. and did keep me reading in hopes of finding the real truth. 
I received a free copy of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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