Dylan and Bev with Luke, Vicky, and Freya in tow are off on the Northern Lights cruise Bev booked at the end of Silent Witness. Truth be told, she’s not so sure about the cruise now. It had seemed a good idea at the time.
First night aboard, Dylan runs into a pettish old woman, Hanna Larsen, outside his cabin. She has the cabin next to him and Bev. The next morning they hear Hanna passed away in her sleep, a heart attack. Dylan might believe that if he hadn’t been awakened by a strange noise in Hanna’s room and heard footsteps, too heavy to be Hanna’s, leave her room. Family holiday or no, once Dylan has the bit in his teeth he’s not letting go until the bitter end.
Poor Bev knows Dylan is distracted but still manages to get him involved in a few events. I felt I got to know Bev better and like her more for it. She truly does love Dylan, clueless as he often is. The description of the area made me want to visit. In fact, the whole cruise sounded like quite an experience, especially when the Northern Lights made their appearance. The locations are always so well depicted I have no trouble envisioning myself right there.
Dead Calm breaks the pattern established in the three previous books in several ways.
Dylan isn’t working a case; he’s on vacation with his family.
The shipboard location vs. Dawson’s Clough made me feel a bit isolated and claustrophobic at the same time. Even though Dead Calm is a novella it’s the tensest Dylan mystery to date. The limited space filled with people including Dylan’s precious family, little room for escape, and the vast frigid sea surrounding the ship, all combine with the other differences to ratchet up the tension.
Our introduction to Hanna Larsen, the victim, isn’t posthumous.
We meet the killer before he murders Hanna, at least mentally. In Dead Calm we’re privy to the killer’s thought processes and memories of past cruelties. The knowledge these insights give makes you acutely aware of the lengths the killer is willing to go to and how truly frightening this person is.
We see a darker side of Dylan. A side I believe we all possess given the right circumstances.
The attention to detail in location description, stellar characterizations, which extend to secondary characters as well as the regulars, and the inventive totally plausible mysteries are the main strengths of the series.
I’m yet to completely figure out a Dylan Scott mystery. There are always plenty of ingenious twists and turns that lead me down the primrose path. When all is revealed it makes complete sense. The clues are there and clearly obvious; at least they stick out once I know the truth. That’s part of the fun though and I always hope to do better with the next book. Dylan ranks in my top five mystery series. I already want to read the next one.
Manic Readers receives books from authors, publishers, and publicists which are given to
reviewers in exchange for their honest opinion. Each review represents the opinion of the reviewer
which may or may not have been influenced by receiving the book at no cost.