Ghosts in the Snow
by Tamara Siler Jones
Review by Gayle Surrette
Spectra Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 0553587099
Date: 26 October, 2004 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Forensic fantasy. That's what caught my attention. I sort of thought I was in for a Brother Cadfael type of mystery. Instead I found Dubric Bryerly to be a strange hybrid of Cadfael and Holmes - a man of logic and clear thinking but without a lab to experiment in. He strives to use the clues left at the scene and around and on the body to solve the crime - not be swayed with emotion or to be fooled by the reputation of the victims. He's honorable and fair-minded. But, well you see ... he sees ghosts. Not just any ghosts but the victims of the crimes, they come to him and stay until he solves their case and the murderer is found and justice served.
Now, you'd think that ghosts of the victim would just tell you who killed them and voilá case solved. Not so, these ghosts cannot talk to Dubric and the longer they hang around the more real they get until they can effect the environment around them. They want justice and they want it now. Dubric is not only under pressure from the Lord of the castle but from the people living in it and the ghosts of the dead. He must find the killer before the ghosts kill him, a palace mob lynches him or one of the other suspects, or the Lord fires him in disgrace. Meanwhile, every night a young woman is horribly mutilated and killed.
While the point of view switches between characters and at times we're in the head of the killer, you are kept guessing as to the identity of the killer. The plot is tight and well thought out. Once you get to the end of the book you can go back to the beginning and find all the clues are there pointing to the killer; but they are not the sort of red flags that most mysteries have -- you really can't see the clues until you know who the killer is. Meanwhile, there are several red herrings that are very convincing.
This is a book that keeps you reading into the wee hours of the night because the characters have depth and you relate to them. There are no large expositions to explain things to you, you learn about the world as you read about the lives of the characters and follow them about their work places. If you like mysteries you're going to enjoy Ghosts in the Snow.