“Ice Lake” a crime thriller by John A. Lenahan – Book Review

A compelling thriller with an environmental edge.

Ice Lake” is the first novel in the series featuring Harry Cull, a personable ex-cop whose career has morphed into detecting whether a person is lying… or not. He is a consultant psychologist, and interrogation is his specialty.

BLURB: AN ABANDONED BODY Deep in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania, the body of a man is found – shot three times, dumped under the trees where the local kids will find him. A HAUNTED PSYCHOLOGIST Psychologist Harry Cull, tormented by his past, arrives in the picturesque town of Ice Lake to help with the murder investigation. There he unravels a web of lies and deceit that leads to the dark heart of a community torn apart by fracking, drugs and murder. A DESPERATE KILLER It’s not long before the second corpse turns up, this time a lawyer left for dead in the forest, and Harry finds himself on the trail of a twisted killer – who will do anything to keep the town’s darkest secrets buried.

Harry is contacted by Pennsylvania State Trooper Edward Cirba. A young man has been murdered on his patch and he wants Harry to help him catch the killer. So much so that he is willing to pay Harry with his own money!  The victim was a well-liked local man. He was shot three times with a shot-gun, and left in the woods to be discovered by teenagers.

The camaraderie of the two men was a delight to read. They first met at a convention in Vegas and they remind each other that “What happens in Vegas – stays in Vegas.

Hydraulic fracking has come to town. There is a huge field right next to a local farm. The farmer maintains that the fracking process in environmentally detrimental to his livestock and his own health.

During their investigations they encounter an unsavory strip-club owner, a real-estate agent who is also the major, a dubious fracking industry and money-laundering by organized crime. Did the victim become of interest to mobsters? And why?  When a second murder takes place, Cull and Cirba realize that there is more to this issue that they first assumed. Both men were shot with a shotgun. Both were called from a payphone directly before their death… I’ve had “Ice Lake” in my review queue for quite some time now. For some reason, other books seemed to shove it lower and lower on the list. That is unfortunate because this was an excellent thriller. I thought that reading this after a 5-star read would do it an injustice, yet it captured my interest immediately and held on throughout the book.

Harry Cull is a character that you can’t help but like. His life has known tragedy (though you aren’t made aware of it at first), he seems super intuitive, very intelligent, and… quite funny (also he is a tea drinker LOL).  I loved the way the author created the friendship between Harry and Trooper Edward Cirba. Their wit and obvious (platonic) affection for each other was evident from the off. In my opinion, male friendship is an underused theme in most crime fiction. I also enjoyed the romantic side-story between Harry Cull and MK, the nurse who lives next-door to his rented house.

The locals were described in such a way that you could immediately picture them, and hear their colloquialism “…and that’s no lie“. I enjoyed the writing. The story flowed easily despite it being about the controversial subject of ‘fracking’ and of course, murder. The setting was quite idyllic. You could just picture Harry’s view from his rented accommodation on a lake in the Pocono Mountains region of Pennsylvania. A view he loves so much that he is reluctant to leave after his ‘week’ is up.

The ending of the novel captured the ‘bad guy’ and so justice was done. An essential in crime/mystery fiction. And since it is the first book in the series, it leaves Harry’s character and situation open for further novels.

Make no mistake folks, despite it being termed a ‘crime thriller’ on the cover, this is also a murder mystery.  Speaking of the cover, I wondered why it depicted a winter looking scene when the book was not set during the winter… Well, they must have had their reasons. Would I read another novel featuring Harry Cull? Of course! I will avidly watch for the second novel to come out. Recommended!         “…and that’s no lie”

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Killer Reads/HarperCollinsUK via NetGalley. This review is my way of saying thanks to them and the author. John Lenahan is a popular TV magician who toured with Jack Dee, Lenny Henry and Victoria Wood. Although he was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania he has lived in the United Kingdom since 1984. He starred on a prime time BBC1 TV show, had his own BBC2 series, and was the voice of the toaster in ‘Red Dwarf’. His fantasy trilogy Shadowmagic, an award-winning podcast that received over 100,000 downloads, was published by HarperCollins and sold over 70,000 copies across all editions. Ice Lake is his debut crime novel, the first in a new series featuring psychologist Harry Cull.

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
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9 Responses to “Ice Lake” a crime thriller by John A. Lenahan – Book Review

  1. You had me at excellent thriller. That picture of the cabin on the lake though…oh my. Is winter over yet?


  2. Norrie says:

    Ooh, sounds good! I love a good thriller mystery.
    Reminds me a bit of Deadwind I’m watching on Netflix. Murder mystery with eco terrorists.


  3. Greg says:

    I like a good murder mystery/ thriller and this one sounds like it delivers! Plus a good male friendship sounds like a nice bonus. Nice that there’s an environmental angle too with the fracking bit.


  4. skyecaitlin says:

    This sounds good, Lynne. Maybe because it’s the next state over from where I live, and I was born in PA.


  5. I think my husband would be interested in this.

    Liked by 1 person

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