Cold as Ice
Book 6 in the Country Club Murders series
Author Julie Mulhern
Narrated by Callie Beaulieu
Publisher: Tantor Media
Publication date Feb 6, 2018
Running time 7 hrs
Ellison Russell’s life resembles a rollercoaster ride. And rollercoasters make her ill. Her daughter Grace has a crush on a boy Ellison doesn’t trust and she’s taken to hosting wild parties when Ellison goes out for the evening. Worse, the bank which represents Grace’s inheritance from her father may be in trouble.
When a meeting with the chef at the country club leads to the discovery of a body, Ellison can’t afford cold feet. She must save the bank, find the killer, and convince Grace (and herself) that powerful women don’t need men to rescue them. https://tantor.com/cold-as-ice-julie-mulhern.html
I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader’s copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
Finding dead bodies is Ellison’s unwitting specialty. This drives her oh-so-arch mother, a stickler for image and propriety, nuts. II am often amused and dismayed behavior of this society-matron. She is so sure she is right all the time that how she treats people is actually poor etiquette. Etiquette is a code of behavior that is meant to put people at ease. Being mean to people, threatening them with your position, is no way to behave. There’s a difference between hauteur and bullying and Ellison’s mother is a true bully. She bullies Ellison the most and berates her for finding bodies as if she wants it.
One aspect of amateur-sleuth. character-centered, cozies is that the main character are involved in, or discover, crimes although they should not be the one’s to find the crime. In Ellison’s case, with the start, at least, of each book she is just going along with her day when she finds the body. Sometimes, other bodies are found later in the book and Ellison is a little more “in the way” of finding them because of her actions.
In this case, however the bodies she finds are all coincidence. They are also all women and are killed because they behave, or are perceived to behave, in a way contrary to the societal norms of the day.
In the meantime, the old boys club is engaging in funny business dating back to her late husband’s behavior. That funny business is endangering Ellison’s daughter’s future finances. That boys will be boys way of doing things is set into high-relief. I think that is the point: the seventies were a time where women’s roles were drastically shifting. This is pointed out when Ellison who’s minor-daughter is the majority owner of the bank, is told the bank doesn’t do things “this way” when she asks for some important records. She has to pull rank to get it done.
Strangely, the one relationship wherein she is not treated like a second-class citizen is her nascent romantic involvement with the man of whom her mother does not approve, Anarchy Jones. I don;t think the guy her mother wants her to date, the well-known, married like Liz Taylor (often), layer Hunter Taft, is Ellison’s social equal, but holds no real interest for her. But they have been and are friends and while Taft would probably go for Ellison, and humors her mother, but he knows Ellison isn’t really interested. Still, he is willing to help her as needed.
The conflict between Ellison and Anarchy is two-fold: she sometimes goes into a dangerous situation without him, and she sometimes acts in the interest of her family and friends. This results in justice on another level out of Anarchy’s control.
I love how this series examines American society; particularly women’s roles in it, on a very personal level. Feminism was a movement but that movement resulted from women questioning their positions on a personal level, “Why can’t I open my own bank account without my husband’s knowledge;” “Why are grown women working in offices still called “girls?” We also see how some women were happy in their place; even Ellison hesitates to call herself a “feminist.”
I lived through the seventies so perhaps this series resonated for me: I think it’s a clever commentary on social change wrapped up in a cozy mystery. It’s no A HANDMAID’S TALE but it is about social change and what blocked, and blocks, us. I like this book because Ellison has to face her own assumptions about her place in society and as a woman; and she has to recognize that her behavior is affected by self-interest. It’s interesting when the heroine has to look at herself in an unfavorable light.
Callie Beaulieu continues to do a great job narracting Ellison and the others. She gets when Ellison is excited, when she has to come to grips with what is happening and who’s in the way. Sometimes Ellison sounds weary of playing society’s game and Beaulieu gets that absolutely right.
By the way, I have read these out of order and while it is great it would be better in order.