This is the fourth book in a series detailing the life of Sheriff David Wolf. He’s the sheriff of a county that’s very similar to where I live in northern New England. The population is largely rural and the biggest industry is tourism – skiing in the winter and camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities in the summer.
In Deadly Conditions, it’s prime ski season in Sluice County. There’s just been a huge snowstorm and the skiers are happy in the town of Rocky Points. As the residents are digging themselves out, a body is discovered along the roadside. It’s apparent right from the start that this was no accident and Sheriff Wolf finds him investigating a murder that is revealing the town’s corruption. Even worse, he’s worried that he has a potential serial killer on the loose.
I have to say the first book in this series did not dazzle me. It took until the third book for me to really start liking the characters and being intrigued by what was going on. Deadly Conditions is a great follow-up to Alive and Killing. Carson builds nicely on the characters he’s introduced so far. I don’t feel you need to read the previous books in the series to enjoy this book, but it helps with some of the backstories of what Sheriff Wolf has gone through so far and how he’s arrived at this point.
The character of David Wolf is an interesting one. He’s got a definite sense of law and order but also acts with compassion for the people around him. Even as he’s interrogating suspects, he steps delicately at times while still trying to get to the truth. This was particularly the case with a man whose wife had recently committed suicide and was still deep in the grief that comes along with it. I could relate to that character totally, although there was more to what was going on that would later be revealed.
Deadly Conditions flows nicely. Carson is great at describing the conditions in the town. For those of us who live in a similar area, I could feel the cold and wetness following the storm while at the same time knowing there is a “dry cold” aspect to it when it doesn’t chill a person to the bone. Carson captures what these conditions are like as a resident, not as an outsider who visits on occasion. I could feel what he was describing as I read it. He also creates a magnificent chase scene on skis that I found to be compelling. I really couldn’t put this book down as I was reading.
The secondary characters that David Wolf works with are fleshed out well after four books and it feels like individuals rather than flat characters existing just to reflect certain aspects of the lead character. Wolf has dealt with the politics of the county over the previous stories, and he’s used to ruffling feathers. Here he challenges rich developers and those in the town who will profit from them without hesitation and he’s not backing down at all, despite being warned off.
I’m finding this series to be full of well-conceived mysteries that are a challenge to figure out and I’m thoroughly enjoying them. Carson has written some terrific, well-rounded characters in situations that really grab my interest. I highly recommend this one as it really grabbed me right from the start.
Previous book in the series (link): Alive and Killing by Jeff Carson