Lil Pingwing’s Cozy Corner: Dead of Winter
Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
A new home, a new marriage, a new family. It’s a lot to sort out. But before medicolegal death investigator Mattie can smooth out the unexpected chaos of her new life, duty calls. At the local ER, a battered and bruised teenage girl has been brought in by a mysterious man who claimed she’d fallen out of a car. The staff is suspicious, but while they attend to the teenager, the unidentified man slips out. Then the girl dies, but not before informing social worker Hildy Schneider that the man had her little sister as well.
Mattie’s exam reveals forensic evidence of long-term IV drug use and physical abuse, findings consistent with Hildy’s suspicion that the girl was a victim of human trafficking. They are able to confirm her identity as a teen who went missing six months ago, along with her sister—facts that are deeply unsettling to Mattie who now shares a home with her husband’s teenaged daughter.
Working closely with Hildy and Sorenson homicide detectives, including her husband Steve Hurley, Mattie must delve into a dark underworld to stop the ruthless trafficking of human lives—before it’s too late for another young girl . . .
The Mattie Winston series is one of my favourite non-cozy series! It follows Mattie, a former nurse who desperately needs a new job after finding her surgeon husband sleeping with another nurse. She takes a job as an assistant to her friend Izzy, who is the county coroner, and helps him investigate suspicious deaths. I love the interactions between Mattie and Izzy, and find her to be such a fun, likeable character (at her first crime scene, a dirty pair of underwear falls out of the bottom of her pants and is discovered by one of the detectives. She then has to face the humiliation of it being tagged as evidence in front of everyone — I couldn’t stop laughing during that scene).
This book is the 10th in the series and I will say that it is still as enjoyable as the first. Mattie has had a lot of changes in her life (married to Detective Hurley, has a step daughter and a toddler) and it’s been fun to follow her on that journey.
I will admit that I found this book hard to read, though. While a lot of parts of Mattie’s life are humerous, the plot line of one young woman being killed as part of a human trafficking ring while her younger sister is also missing was a lot to bear. I had to push through a bit to get through that plot. This is definitely not a cozy series.
However, in spite of the emotionally challenging plot, it was still a good book and (of course) had a satisfying ending. And it still had lots of the same lighthearted moments I loved in the earlier books, it just took a bit of time to get to them.
I highly recommend the series. But just be forewarned about the emotional content as you get to the later books.