Lorraine Devon Wilke's Reviews > Deep Water Thin Ice

Deep Water Thin Ice by Kathy Shuker
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really liked it

I love a book that sets up its suspense early then allows the reader to push forward from that inciting moment to slowly and sometimes precariously uncover the "why" and "who" of the tale. DEEP WATER, THIN ICE leapt into its narrative quickly, then unfolded with a plot line that was immediately compelling, with a cast of characters that grabbed our sympathy and interest and embodied the story with rich detail.

Alex, our talented, hearty protagonist, has lost her husband under suspicious circumstances and compelled by both grief and a need for solace, decides on a sabbatical to the countryside to spend time in his inherited -- and previously abandoned -- home. While there, her innate curiosity gets her out to explore the town and its eclectic coterie of inhabitants, most of whom pique her interest, particularly the heretofore unknown cousin of her late husband -- an attractive fellow with a strong resemblance to her husband -- and his odd and slightly off-putting mother. From there the story unfolds in a way that is both alarming and page-turning, introducing us to various mysteries, personalities, and possibilities that sometimes throw red-herrings our way but ultimately lead to the complex, many-layered resolution of Alex's husband's death…as well as a few other unexpected other plot points.

Author Kathy Shuker, a gifted storyteller, clearly knows the land and people of which she writes. The textures and rich, specific elements that create the people, location, and atmosphere of her book are offered with just enough detail to make the reader feel transported and completely enveloped. As one who's never been to the English countryside, I felt as if I could smell the air and feel the unique rhythms of the place she created, an immersion I always appreciative as a reader! The suspense was complex enough to keep me awake far too long on my last night with the book, eager to get to the end, hopeful that our feisty protagonist would sort out the subterfuge before it overwhelmed her.

Shuker made an interesting choice in allowing the audience in on the secret before her main character becomes aware, giving us that dreaded if pulse-pounding perspective of watching Alex walk into traps despite us waving our arms and hollering for her to step away! :) I enjoyed the tension of that choice and thought the author wielded it successfully.

If I have any critique of the book it's that the main antagonists of the story seemed, at times, to be too broadly drawn, a little too obvious and just maybe a tad clichéd in their nefariousness. By the time that was the case, however, I was enough captured by the story that it didn't spoil things, but I might have suggested a bit more subtlety, particularly in how the main villain comported himself both with Alex and others along the way.

And, though this may seem minor, the book's ending -- literally, the verbiage of the last line or two -- felt slightly clunky, as if there needed to be a more expansive, meaningful denouement after such a dense, rich journey. The idea introduced at that point didn't totally work for me, but I do appreciate the author's clear desire to leave us with a twist. I just might have rendered it a bit more poetically, as it felt as if it ended a sentence – or even word -- or two too quickly!

But overall, a great read by an obviously talented writer I’d happily read again. A solid recommend.
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Reading Progress

August 31, 2014 – Shelved
August 31, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
Started Reading
September 9, 2014 – Finished Reading

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