COLD THREAT by Nancy Mehl is the second novel in the Ryland & St. Clair Series and follows River Ryland and Tony St. Clair as they lend their assistance to Tony’s father in stopping a cold-blooded killer with a penchant for setting fires.
Tony St. Clair and River Ryland are former FBI behavioral analysts who are now running their private investigation firm. When Tony’s father, a detective in Burlington, Iowa, asks for Tony’s and River’s assistance with an arson/murder cold case, they agree to help. Many years earlier, Tony’s father rescued a young girl from a burning house in Des Moines when he was a new officer. That rescue left Tony’s father with burns and, after similar murders and fires over the years, with the suspicion that a serial killer was on the loose. The killer always leaves a snowman ornament hanging in a tree near the house. Now, a similar crime has occurred in Burlington. Is the killer following Tony's father? As River and Tony start to profile the killer, they must delve deep into the crimes, modus operandi, and motivations of the individual. The killer always strikes on a snowy night. As River stays with Tony’s family and the snow begins to fall, she hopes she and Tony can solve the case before the killer strikes again.
COLD THREAT starts strong as we see the heinous crime through the perpetrator’s eyes. River and Tony are soon on the case, both dealing with scars and emotional baggage from their previous case involving the Salt River Strangler. There is a lot of character development and emphasis on talking through feelings and past situations, which slows down the pacing of the story. The suspense is limited until the end, as most of the investigation happens at Tony’s parents' house and involves profiling the killer. Some characters are a little overbearing, but the strength of the novel is really in the villain’s development and backstory—what makes him seek out vengeance? How did he become a monster? The snow and cold add a nice ambiance, and the final reveal of the killer is a good, solid twist. Overall, COLD THREAT is an enjoyable, clean story with Christian themes and provides an entertaining and pleasant read on a cold winter afternoon.
Twenty years ago, several people were murdered in Des Moines, and the only evidence left behind was a snowman ornament hanging ominously on a tree in the victims' front lawns. With a suspect behind bars, the killings have come to an end--or so everyone thought. But now crimes with a similar MO are happening in a small Iowa town, and a local detective believes the killer is back and ready to strike again.
With little time left on the clock before they have another murder on their hands, private investigators River Ryland and Tony St. Clair must work alongside Tony's detective father to find evidence that will uncover an evil that has survived far too long. As the danger mounts and the suspect closes in, it will take all they have to catch a killer--before he catches one of them.