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Broken Ice


Broken Ice

There are few pleasures in life greater than reading a solid private investigation novel done correctly. So let me direct your attention to BROKEN ICE by Matt Goldman. While Goldman’s name may not be familiar to you, his work in television almost certainly is, as he is an Emmy-winning screenwriter for several comedy series that have become household names over the years. He recently turned his hand to writing crime novels, creating a Minneapolis private detective named Nils Shapiro, who debuted in the solidly written GONE TO DUST. His sophomore effort featured the return of this likable and unforgettable protagonist while meeting and exceeding the promises made in his debut.

"Goldman’s plotting and descriptions are first rate. I could not help but feel that he is on his way to doing for northern Minnesota what Ross Macdonald did for southern California."

BROKEN ICE begins with Nils finding himself entangled with the search for a young woman who goes missing in the midst of the Minnesota State High School hockey tournaments. Another young lady is found dead at the same time under highly suspicious circumstances, and although the two did not seem to have any ties to each other, the timing seems to be anything but coincidental. Nils hasn’t even begun his investigation before he is the subject of an attack that almost leaves him mortally injured. The instrumentality --- an arrow --- is unusual, and when two more people are murdered in a similar fashion, it puts Nils, who is still recovering from his injuries, on a twisted and seemingly bizarre trail that leads anywhere but to the missing girl.

Nils is nothing if not dogged, and despite the resistance and reticence of local law enforcement, he finds an evidentiary path, however thin, that enables him to navigate the stark northern Minnesota wilderness where it butts up against the Canadian border. It seems everyone has secrets, except for the aunt of the missing girl, who gradually provides and finds solace and comfort with Nils even as his investigation uncovers some very unpleasant realities. Money, as always, would appear to be the primary motivation behind all that is occurring, but it isn’t quite that simple, and there is more than one manipulator behind the curtain, pulling deadly strings for their own purposes. A major showdown near the end of the novel, as well as an incident that provides the pivot on which the book’s title is based, leads to a dark and unexpected conclusion that resonates long after the final words are read.

Goldman’s plotting and descriptions are first rate. I could not help but feel that he is on his way to doing for northern Minnesota what Ross Macdonald did for southern California. Still, it’s the quietly yet intensely driven Nils Shapiro who, as the past tense narrator of BROKEN ICE, propels the book along, keeping the complex plot smooth and flowing through the dark places in the deeds he investigates as well as those lurking within his own soul. Goldman has found a place on my “must-read” list in a very short time, and I look forward to reading about this troubled but optimistic investigator for many more books and years to come.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on June 22, 2018

Broken Ice
by Matt Goldman

  • Publication Date: April 30, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books
  • ISBN-10: 0765391341
  • ISBN-13: 9780765391346