|Lynn Erickson: On Thin Ice|
Books (Paperback), ISBN 0515129712
The book's premise recalls the real life crime against Jon Benet Ramsey. In the fiction, a rapist victimizes a young girl, Stephanie Morris, in her own home. But from there, the real and fictional murder paths diverge. Fourteen years later Stephanie lies in a coma. Erickson creates another victim of the same assault, Ellie Kramer, who dedicates her life to the search for clues to the assailant's identity.
Ellie, not a rape victim, agonizes over the death of her father who, through circumstantial evidence served time in prison for the crimes against Stephanie. Wrongfully accused, unable to find justice, he died behind those bars. Ellie wants revenge. She carefully plans her life to bring her to the present where she serves as an intern in the Boulder District Attorney's Office. The DA's Office provides the perfect headquarters for her investigation. She can access the old files of the Morris case and work on her own theories of whodunit.
Her theory pinpoints one of two men. Ellie will do anything to prove her man's guilt, even if it means sleeping with him. That point of the book brought me up short. I couldn't get past the idea that any woman would sleep with a person she believes to be a serial rapist, no matter how good her reason. That issue haunted me for the remainder of the book, and I never resolved it. Ellie certainly doesn't march to the same survival beat that I do.
Erickson writes a suspenseful novel with a surprising twist in the presentation. She tells us what's going to happen, then makes it happen. She reveals the bad guy, then proceeds to show us how Ellie discovers his identity. She continually takes the surprise out of the plot, then twists the ending around to deceive readers. But by then, we can predict the next plot turn and rather than surprising, her twist proves confusing and a bit frustrating.
Erickson writes with strength and assurance, shaping characters we can care about. She creates a mystery written from an interesting perspective. She also underscores the repercussions of heinous acts and all the ways they hurt innocent bystanders and loved ones. With all that said, a few of Erickson's plot points prevented me from surrendering to her fictional creation.
Previous books by Erickson, such as Searching for Sarah, received a string of positive reviews and accolades. But On Thin Ice cracks up to be less than her best effort.
Dawn Goldsmith's multi-part feature on Women's History Month can be read in the current issue of Myria Magazine for Moms.
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