Cold Snap (Arliss Cutter #4), by Marc Cameron

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Marc Cameron, and Kensington Books for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Always a fan of Marc Cameron’s writing, I was pleased to get my hands on his latest in the Arliss Cutter series, set up in Alaska. When random body parts begin to appear on the shore, there is talk that a serial killer may be lurking in the shadows. While working as a US Marshal up in Alaska, Arliss Cutter agrees to help with the case, only to be pulled away for a random prisoner transport up in a rural part of the state. What follows is a harrowing hunt for a killer, and a transport that goes horribly wrong. Cameron dazzles again with his writing and keeps the reader on their toes throughout.

The move from Florida to Alaska is one that Arliss Cutter has never regretted, particularly as it has helped his family out a great deal. Still, there are days that he cannot help but wonder if the cold climate is worth the risk. As a US Marshal, he’s never bored, as the work is ever-evolving and he never knows what to expect.

When body parts begin to turn up on the shore, Cutter is stymied, as well as the local Anchorage Police. Alongside his partner, Lola Teariki, Cutter tries to lend a hand while the locals follow up on some leads. It would seem that the killer is targeting women who work as prostitutes, capturing them when no one would notice. Still, some others cannot help but mention the siting of a ‘Tall Man’, but the information appears to lead nowhere at all.

While Lola works closely with the Anchorage Police, Cutter is called away on a prisoner transport in the northern part of the state. Ready and armed for most anything, he heads out to bring a group of men back to Anchorage. During the flight back, the plane encounters some trouble and lands in the middle of nowhere, leaving Cutter and a few others to try surviving with some ruthless criminals. As temperatures drop and the wildlife in the region come out to scavenge, Cutter and the others will have to survive long enough for someone to rescue them, whenever that might be. A killer on the loose who dismembers victims with ease, a plane stranded in the middle of nowhere… there’s no telling what might happen. Marc Cameron keeps the tension high throughout this fourth novel in the series.

Marc Cameron has always impressed with his writing, mixing grit and determination with the uniqueness of rural Alaska. Using the US Marshals angle, Cameron is able to effectively explore the excitement of prisoner hunts with usual criminal activity that requires daily attention. A strong narrative and great characters, with some building sub-plots, Cameron impresses series fans with this piece, which pushes the story to a new level of excitement. By the end, there is a definite push for how the series might conclude, or move in new directions.

Arliss Cutter has evolved a great deal throughout the series, though much of it is in the form of character development, rather than backstory. Having moved to Alaska to help his sister-in-law after the death of his brother, Arliss plays a dual role as US Marshal and quasi-parent, though he does not wish to accentuate the latter. Convinced that he can find out what happened to his brother, who appears to have committed suicide, Arliss works hard to represent the Marshals and liaise with some of the local law enforcement entities around the state. Where things will go in the coming novels is anyone’s guess, but I am eager to see what Cameron has in store for his protagonist.

While crime thrillers can become quite repetitive, Marc Cameron has found the recipe to stand out. It could be the way he handles the ‘hunt for the killer’, or even that the Alaskan backdrop makes the story come to life, but whatever it is, Cameron has mastered it. His detailed narrative allows the reader to feel as though they are in the middle of the action, which takes things into the coldest parts of the state as well. Well-paced and full of action, the narrative pushes things along well, using characters to keep the story intriguing at evert page turn. A few strong plot lines push the story along effectively and permits the reader to remain engaged as truths come to light slowly, but consistently. While I am unsure where things are headed with this series, Cameron offers some breadcrumbs in the final chapter of the book, which could move the novels in a different ‘hunt for the truth’ direction.

Kudos, Mr. Cameron, for another winner. I hope others discover this series and find the same engaging nature in your writing.