Detective Lauren Riley isn’t afraid of the tough cases. In fact, she embraces them. Since her two daughters left for college, her job has become her whole life. Even though she works full time for the police force, she won’t shy away from a side project, if it’s the right one.
Enter defense attorney Frank Violanti. He needs her help. However, having faced Violanti across a courtroom one too many times, Riley considers him the nemesis of her career. She’d like nothing more than to see him destroyed. Yet, the boy he’s defending, his 18-year-old godson, David, couldn’t possibly be a murderer. He had no motive to kill a woman in cold blood. Riley teams up with Violanti to investigate the case, determined to clear the boy’s name and see justice served.
As if investigating a murder isn’t complicated enough, Riley’s ex-husband, Joe Wheeler, is the cop who arrested David. To say that Riley and Wheeler have a sordid history would be an understatement. Wheeler was physically abusive and still holds a grudge against Riley for divorcing him. Beating her in court wouldn’t just be an accomplishment for his career, but a personal revenge for leaving him all of those years ago. He is willing to stop at nothing to make sure he won’t be humiliated by Riley once again.
Joe Wheeler isn’t the only one who wants to see Riley defeated. Many of her coworkers are questioning her involvement in the case. David was the last person seen with the murdered woman the night of her death, and if Riley is wrong about him being innocent, it could jeopardize not just her credibility as a detective, but her relationship with her partner and others on the force.
Throw in a second cold case mystery that Riley must investigate for her day job on the police force, a marital affair, a stalker, a rekindled romance, and David’s missing ex-girlfriend, and readers will have more than enough drama to keep them guessing for all 350 plus pages.
Detective Riley is a believable and relatable character. You don’t have to be a cop or private investigator to understand her struggles as a mother and as a woman. Rest assured the text is easy to understand as well, as all of the police and legal jargon is carefully explained in a way that only a former detective like Lissa Marie Redmond could. It is obvious that Redmond’s own background in law enforcement provided her with the expertise evident in the details of her work. Yet, readers may be surprised to find out this is her first novel, as page-turners like these don’t come easily to even a seasoned writer.
Whether you are a hardcore Law and Order fan or a crime fiction newbie looking for a smart and engaging read, I would definitely recommend A Cold Day in Hell. Redmond has written a suspenseful novel that doesn’t reveal the real whodunit until the very last chapter. My only regret is the next book in the series isn’t immediately available, as the unresolved tensions mount into a violent cliffhanger that left me wanting more right away.