The Girl in the Ice (DCI Erika Foster #1), by Robert Bryndza

Eight stars

In his new series, Robert Bryndza introduces readers to DCI Erika Foster, a passionate cop with a sordid past of her own. After the body of Andrea Douglas-Brown turns up, encased in ice and floating in the frigid January water, South London police turn their Missing Persons alert to a full-fledged homicide case. DCI Erika Foster arrives to join the homicide team, having been seconded from Manchester after a less than honourable experience with the local constabulary. While Foster brings much to the team, her parachuting in as a leader rubs some the wrong way, though she has little time for office politicking. Before she is able to get her legs under her, Foster is pushed to solve the case, as Douglas-Brown’s father is an influential Labour Peer and demands full attention to hunt down his daughter’s killer. While Foster commissions her team to follow-up any lead, she is unaware of the kid glove treatment she’s expected to take when it comes to this family, something that does not happen outside the realm of the Met. The more she pushes, the more Foster is chastised by her superiors to follow protocol to the letter, even though her methods yield many more results. This does not dissuade Foster, who wants to solve the case more than pussyfoot around and genuflect, shoving her way in front of the cameras when necessary and pushing witnesses out of their comfort zones with crime scene photos meant to alarm statements of fact. Foster follows a promising lead that takes her to one of the seedier pubs in the region, where Douglas-Brown was seen on the night of her murder. Against the wishes of those above her, Foster pushes to determine if the murder matches any others in the database, learning that there are strong similarities between her victim and a number of Eastern European prostitutes of a similar age. Foster pushes forward and her unconventional techniques earn her a swift suspension. Like any good copper, Foster refuses to drop the case and pushes her team to continue the investigation, which brings the killer to her door and almost leaves her as another victim. As she recovers, Foster cannot help but recollect her arrival in the United Kingdom at eighteen and the time she spent on the force in Manchester, an equally troubling experience. There is still a killer on the loose and Foster will stop at nothing to lure them out from the darkest corners, even if that means putting herself in mortal danger. A wonderful beginning to a new series that pits a stubborn cop against the most wily of killers. A must read for all those who love crime thrillers with a twist!

Bryndza holds his own in this genre, especially when surrounded by some daunting authors who use England as their backdrop for sensational crime thrillers. This book (and series) has been recommended to me by many people and it did not fail to pique my interest. DCI Erika Foster has a rich backstory, some of which is revealed throughout this book. From her Slovakian childhood to the drug raid that went horribly wrong, killing her husband and other members of her team, Bryndza contrasts this nicely with the abrasive nature that Foster brings to her investigative style. The result is a detective keen on results, even if that means trampling over a few barriers to get there. With this story in particular, the cast of characters is also quite extensive, but Bryndza allows the reader to connect with most everyone who graces the page. Add to that, a wonderfully flowing narrative and a killer who is bound and determined to keep themselves hidden while facing off numerous times with Foster, both through crime scenes and directly. Dialogue rich with speech nuances and slang keeps the reader feeling that they are in the heart of South London, which is a technique for which Bryndza should be recognised. I found myself addicted to the story, the characters, and the premise from the get-go and am pleased there is more Erika Foster to come.

Kudos, Mr. Bryndza for this wonderful introduction to DCI Erika Foster. You have laid the groundwork for a great follow-up novel, which I am eager to devour.