A fellow blogger and excellent writer, Christoph Fischer, just ventured into my domain with his cozy mystery, The Body in the Snow. So of course I had to read the book!
The book has three distinct parts: the first is the crime, brief but graphically suggested.
The second is really what I’d call a chick lit piece because it describes the residents in three country cottages in Llangurrey in Wales, an idyllic but remote setting. It begins eight days before the crime and the reader is first introduced to the residents of the three cottages through the eyes of Bebe Bollinger – who will clearly be back in subsequent books since this is a Bebe Bollinger mystery. Bebe is an egocentric, past-her-prime chanteuse who awakens to a continuous heavy snowfall that has closed businesses and schools and all the area roads, cutting her and her neighbors off from the rest of civilization. Bebe is a hoot, in my opinion, so aware of her image that she doesn’t buy enough food to see her through the storm because she refused to be seen emptying shelves in the local market. I loved the image of her emerging from her house during the snow storm in her mink coat and fur Russian-style hat with high heel leather boots. Her main connection to the outside world is her daughter Helena, to whom she barely relates. One of her neighbors is Dora, ten years younger than Bebe, a stunning and colorful woman recently divorced from the scion of a wealthy, local family. The third set of neighbors are Ian and Christine. Ian is friendly and gregarious when his wife is not around; Christine is, to put it nicely, a bitch. She complains to her neighbors about all sort of things – putting their garbage bins out too early, parking to close to the space in front of her cottage. Roughly a third of the book is devoted to developing these characters in caustically humorous detail and exploring their relationships, which allows the reader to consider who might have done the crime, when the body in the snow is finally found.
The third part of the book begins when the body is identified as the wife of a man currently engaged in a public affair with Helena. He, Helena and the wife have visited Bebe at one time or other. But the body is found in front of Ian and Christine’s cottage, and the rest of the book is devoted to the investigation of Detective Sergeant Beth Cooper. Cooper is a gay alcoholic on the wrong side of thirty, who is given the case by her superior because he is convinced she is in a downward spiral – and this case will seal her fate. Her girlfriend has recently left her and things couldn’t get much worse, until she begins her investigation of the body in the snow.
In the midst of all this weaves Bebe’s attempted comeback to the music scene, the oddly toxic relationship of Ian and Christine, Helena’s in-her-mother’s-face relationship with her married boyfriend, and the flamboyant Dora, who had an argument with the victim.
I truly believed at one point that the duck out of water Cooper would be unable to solve this ‘who dunnit,’ a powerful statement to the convincing characterizations of the author. Tension and personality clashes add to the seemingly disconnected threads of the mystery. Thank heavens he ties it all up in convincing fashion!
For a first dip in the cozy field, this award-winning historical and crime fiction writer has taken the gold. I highly recommend this book for an intriguing and never boring read!
About the author
Christoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, but moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years he moved on to the UK where he now lives in a small town in West Wales. He and his partner have three Labradoodles to complete their family.
Christoph worked for the British Film Institute, in Libraries, Museums and for an airline. He is a prolific writer: The Luck of The Weissensteiners was published in 2012; Sebastia‘ in 2013 and The Black Eagle Inn also 2013 completing his Three Nations Trilogy. He then published two contemporary novels Time to Let Go and Conditions in 2014. The sequel Conditioned was published in 2015, along with a medical thriller The Healer. Two more historical novels, In Search of a Revolution and Ludwika came out in December 2015.
You can find Christoph in many places:
Twitter: @CFFBooks, @WriterCFischer
Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/106213860775307052243