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Heart of Ice

Heart of Ice

3.8 80
by Gregg Olsen

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A missing woman has been found—too late, brutally murdered along with her unborn child. As single mom and small-town sheriff Emily Kenyon investigates the widowed husband, another killer demands her attention with a trail of dead sorority girls. When Emily



A missing woman has been found—too late, brutally murdered along with her unborn child. As single mom and small-town sheriff Emily Kenyon investigates the widowed husband, another killer demands her attention with a trail of dead sorority girls. When Emily discovers ties to her teenage daughter Jenna, she knows exactly where the killing will end. Because the killer wants her to know . . .

Praise for Gregg Olsen’s novels




Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Olsen (A Cold Dark Place) deftly juggles multiple plot lines as Cherrystone, Wash., sheriff Emily Kenyon investigates the murder of a local woman while crazed serial murderer Michael Barton, on a cross-country killing spree, terrorizes comely young sorority girls. The dead woman's husband is an arrogant philanderer, but Kenyon lacks solid evidence that he was the one who disposed of his inconveniently pregnant wife in a particularly grisly manner. Meanwhile, Kenyon's ex-partner in the Seattle PD, Chris Collier, is pressuring her to make a decision concerning their ongoing romantic relationship. After one failed marriage and singlehandedly raising her daughter, Jenna, Emily is gun-shy about any kind of commitment. When Barton targets Jenna, tension builds but is diffused by Barton's overly extensive backstory, which humanizes him at the cost of the reader's attention. (Mar.)

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Heart of Ice



Copyright © 2009 Gregg Olsen
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7860-2175-8


Cherrystone, Washington

Emily Kenyon was proud of her deep blue suit and the polished silver star of the sheriff's office on her jacket, yet the idea of an A-line skirt in late November was more than her thin blood could take. Why wasn't there a pants option? She was the first female sheriff for Cherrystone, but surely someone had thought that through before. It was an annoyance on chilly November days and thankfully she only had to wear the suit for official occasions that had more to do with public relations than law enforcement. Moreover, she had the sneaking suspicion the getup made her look like a flight attendant as much as anything.

That afternoon she had lunch with the Rotary Club to kick off the annual "Teddy Bears for Tots" fund-raiser, a statewide drive in which officers collected plush teddy bears for the littlest victims of crimes, accidents, and fires. Emily spoke for five minutes, shook the hands of several Rotary officers, and thanked them for the "teamwork that makes us great."

The line felt hokey; even so the crowd applauded.

As she exited the restaurant banquet room, she knew that she needed a warmer coat than her old trench if she wanted to keep from freezing. She ran through her mental list of things that had to be done. She needed to get her roots touched up at the salon. She also had to do something with the turkey carcass that occupied the top shelf in her refrigerator following Thanksgiving with Jenna, her twenty-two-year-old daughter, Chris Collier, her boyfriend — though she loathed the idea of a grown man being called a boyfriend — and her friend, Olga Cerrino.

Her cell rang. It was Jason Howard, her deputy.

"Kenyon here," she said.

"Hi, Sheriff. It's Jason."

That they even bothered to identify themselves was almost a joke between them. Only a dozen employees made up the Cherrystone Sheriff's Department. It wasn't the smallest law enforcement organization, but it certainly wasn't in Washington State's top ten. "We got a call from Jeanne Parkinson at the clerk's office. She's worried about an employee."

Emily knew Jeanne. She worried about everything.

"What's going on?" she asked.

"An employee didn't come to work today."

Emily wanted to laugh, yet somehow she held it. "Is this what we've been reduced to? The attendance monitors for the county?"

"That's what I thought, but this could be different. They're worried that something might have happened to Mandy on her way to work."

"Mandy Crawford?"

"Yeah. She's pregnant, you know."

"I know. She's due any day, isn't she?" Emily checked her teeth in the rearview mirror of her Kelly green county-issued Crown Vic. Spinach salad was never a good choice for a luncheon. Why didn't caterers understand that spinach leaves gripped teeth like Velcro?

"Mitch says when he left for work, she was already gone."

Mitch was Mitch Crawford, Mandy's husband.

"I'm not far from there," Emily said. "I'll stop by and follow her route to the office."

"Need the address?"

"I know where everyone in Cherrystone lives. That's how exciting my life is."

"Gotcha, Sheriff. We're in the same boat."

She almost said something about the Titanic, but thought better of it. Jason Howard was her subordinate and admitting to him that they were both in dead-end jobs was counterproductive. The fact was that adrenaline junkies would die a slow death in Cherrystone. Nothing earth-shattering happened in Cherrystone. No murder in five years. There had been three rapes, twenty-eight burglaries/robberies, eighty-three assaults, and a couple hundred drug busts, mostly for meth — the scourge of small towns and rural communities across the West.

No one had to tell Emily who Mandy's husband was. Mitch Crawford was a good eight to ten years younger than she, but the Crawford family was well known for having the region's car dealership. Cherrystone was certainly out of the way, with Spokane being its nearest major city. Mitch's father, Eddie, however, had shown a knack for marketing that turned the car lot into a destination. He'd fly people into Spokane from Seattle or Portland, pick them up in a limo, and make sure they returned home in one of his cars. He ran ads on TV and radio, and was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame in Reno, Nevada. When he died, Mitch took over.

The car lot wasn't looking so sprightly these days. Mitch Crawford, it seemed, was no Eddie Crawford.

Mitch and Mandy lived in a hopelessly hokey development crafted for those who think showing off their money is the better part of having any. Their address was in the ridiculously named Bristol Estates — ridiculous because Cherrystone was nowhere near England, and the only thing English about the town was that most people spoke the language.

When Emily arrived, she showed her badge and a guard opened the gate. Bristol Estates was a small development with only fourteen homes on "equestrian lots" built with garish architectural embellishments. Each home had a "carriage" house for their cars and a turret that presumably fed fantasies for the would-be princes, Rapunzels, and Lancelots.

Emily parked the Crown Vic behind Mitch's Germanmade sedan and wondered why Cherrystone's biggest car dealer didn't drive a Ford like all his customers.

The leaded glass front door swung open.

"Emily," Mitch called out. "Sorry you've been dragged into this."

He was better looking than she'd remembered. He had broad shoulders, a strong, handsome jawline, and hair cut short in the way that men sometimes do when it is thinning. He was far too vain for a comb-over. He wore a Ralph Lauren sweater and slacks that looked a little too matchy-matchy, as though he'd purchased them without the help of a woman who knew what really looked good on a man. A gold chain that hearkened back to his dealership origins was nestled in his manscaped chest hair. He'd tried to leapfrog from his car dealership lineage, but the gold jewelry, the bad taste, and a whiff of Calvin Klein's Obsession were clues that he'd not made it as far as he'd liked. Despite the grand house. Or maybe, because of it.

"Dragged? It's my job," she said.

"I know. Just seems silly. I'm sure Mandy just went out shopping."

"How come you're home?"

"Oh, just had to zip home for some stuff I need at work."

"I see."

He cracked the door open a little more, but still didn't come outside or offer Emily to come in out of the cold air.

"She was supposed to be at work," she said.

"Oh, no. She'd taken the day off. She had some things to get for the baby."

Emily stepped a little closer, craning her neck to see what, if anything was behind him. "They were expecting her at the clerk's office."

Mitch looked unconcerned. "Signals crossed, I think. I'm not saying this to sound like a Neanderthal, but you know, she's pregnant. She's not exactly dotting all the i's and crossing the t's these days."

Emily let the remark fly by. He was being a Neanderthal, but something was drawing her attention more than his words — the overpowering odor of bleach.

"Can I come in?" she asked, a calming smile on her face. "Have a look around?"

He looked at her warily.

"Sure. I was doing a little cleaning. I'm done now."

"Smells like bleach," she said.

Mitch offered a kind of lifeless smile that seemed more for effect than for the conveyance of any warmth or charm. "Nothing works better for cleaning."

"I know," she said, thinking at the same time that nothing obliterates blood and other body fluids better than bleach, too.

Mitch led Emily into the kitchen. Atop the black granite counter, Emily noticed a plastic bucket with soapy water. A mop was catawampus on the floor. Mitch followed her gaze, and picked it up.

"Trying to clean up, you know, baby coming soon, and the help has the day off."

Emily surveyed the room, wondering if the help was his missing wife or a maid service with an 800 number. "Sure," she said. She noticed a cappuccino machine that had to be commercial grade, a wine refrigerator, a walk-in Sub-Zero refrigerator, and a range with more burners than the nicest restaurant in Cherrystone.

"Nice kitchen," she said.

He pulled his sweater sleeves up to his elbows, bunching up the fabric in soft folds. Cashmere. "We like nice things. Mandy and I."

Mitch kept his body between Emily and the rest of the house. It was clear that he'd invited her in, but only so far.

"Can I see the bedroom? You know, to be safe. I might see something that you've missed."

Mitch put his hand out, a gesture that meant to push her back — though she was already at arm's length.

"I'd rather not," he said. "Mandy didn't make the bed and she'd die if you saw the way we lived. She thinks so much of you."

"She's a nice girl. But I don't mind."

"But I do. I mean, Mandy would."

With his dark brown, penetrating eyes, Mitch stared at Emily for a second, maybe two.

Dead air. Emily resisted the urge to fill the empty space. Let him. Let him say something he'd regret.

Finally Mitch spoke.

"I hate to do this, but I'm going to have to ask you to leave." He started for the front door, and Emily followed. Past the kitchen, through the living room, down the hallway with its art gallery vibe — mostly modern, though she spotted a Thomas Kinkade painting of an English cottage dipped in pink roses and candlelight.

"Mandy likes that kind of crap," he said. "Mall art. Jeesh."

This guy was too much. His wife didn't show up for work and he was throwing her taste in art under the bus. Emily figured that Mitch Crawford was all about pretension, keeping up appearances. Control.

"What about your wife?" she asked. "Where is she?"

"What about her? I told you she was shopping in Spokane." His tone was impatient and he tried to reel it back in. "You know, for baby things."

"You hadn't told me where. Where in Spokane?"

He escorted Emily toward the door. "Riverside Mall, downtown. Better stores than the valley mall." He held open the door.

"All right," she said. "Tell Mandy to call the department when she gets in."

Before Emily finished her sentence, he'd already shut the door and turned the dead bolt.

Emily parked the cruiser in the SHERIFF spot in front of the terra-cotta facade of the City and County Safety Building, and walked to her office overlooking Main Street. Each time she passed the "Wall of Fame" — portraits of the sixteen men and the lone woman who'd served as sheriff — she felt a wince of pain. It had been two years since Brian Kiplinger succumbed to a heart attack, an event that not only broke the hearts of all who worked there, but put Emily in line for the job as the sheriff. She'd never wanted to be the damn sheriff; moreover, she never wanted to work for anyone but Kip. She was appointed interim sheriff and the following year she won the election by a whopping 88 percent majority. That she ran unopposed probably did more for her landslide victory than unbridled support from a hometown electorate. A woman sheriff was a bit of a novelty, to say the least.

"How was lunch?" The voice belonged to Gloria Bergstrom, the office dispatcher and, really, the glue that held the whole place together. She was in her midsixties, had steel-gray hair that she kept short and stylish, and never showed up for work without four-inch heels. There was good reason for that: in stocking feet, Gloria was only five feet tall.

"An inch shorter and I could have been a Munchkin in another life," she joked whenever anyone made mention of her stature.

Emily smiled at Gloria. "Lunch was fine. Lots of promises of support. You know, working together, making a difference. The word will get out that those teddy bears are important to the kids."

"Did you track down Mandy? The women from the clerk's office have called twice."

Emily shook her head and pulled off an earring that hurt like hell and picked up the phone. She pushed the speed-dial code for the clerk's office.

"Nope, her husband says she went shopping —" She cut herself off and turned her gaze from Gloria to focus on the phone call she was making. "Jeanne? Emily. I did a drive-by of the Crawford place and Mr. Personality said Mandy took the day off to go shopping for baby things in Spokane."

"She did no such thing," Jeanne said in her fluty voice. "She never would do that to us here. She is our best employee."

"Maybe she left a message with someone else that she was sick or something?"

"No. There's no way she would do that. You see, Emily, today we were having a baby shower for her. It wasn't exactly a surprise. She even picked out the cake."

"I see," Emily said, her mind flashing on the house she'd just toured. There wasn't a thing out of place. Not only was Mitch Crawford a social climber who'd rejected his middle-class roots for the accoutrements of a rich lifestyle, he was a self-absorbed ass. A lot of husbands were. She'd had one of those herself. "Was anything going on between Mandy and her husband? Was she angry at him?"

"No, not that I know of. She was focused on the baby. That's all she wanted."

Emily nodded. "All right. I'll check with Mitch this evening to make sure she came home."

"Emily, one more thing."

"What is it?" She held her breath as if Jeanne was about to reveal some critical clue about why Mandy Crawford might skip work. Maybe she was mad at someone. Maybe Mitch had been beating her up.

"Can you send someone over here to get some of this cake? No one here feels much like celebrating."

Emily let out a sigh. "Of course," she said. She hung up the phone and went down the hall to find her deputy. He was at his desk surfing a Web site for ski conditions in Idaho. He clicked his mouse to close the window.

"Jason? Can you find someone to go over to the clerk's office? Jeanne has something she wants to give us."

"Right on it, Sheriff."

Emily smiled as her deputy leaped to his feet and started for the door.

Jason Howard was always hoping that something would happen around Cherrystone. What no one knew just then was it already had.

It was half past six and already dark. The snow-threatening cloud cover was a snug lid over the town. Despite the elements, the Bryant-Thompsons were still out stringing lights to outline every architectural detail of their two-story Victorian across the street from Emily's charming but more modest home. The Bryant-Thompsons — Trevor and Mason — were one of those couples who insisted that it wasn't Christmassy if it wasn't over-the-top. Way over the top. No bush was left unadorned, no skeletal tree left without a coating of little white lights. This year, Emily thought as she waved at the two men on ladders, she wasn't going to give into her halfhearted attempt at trying to keep up with them. There was no point in it. She was doing a lighted wreath outside her front door and an artificial tree in the front window. That's it.

She let herself inside and reached for her phone. The house was quiet. Jenna, home from her job consulting for a sorority's national office, was in the shower.

Emily left her number with Mitch Crawford, but he hadn't called back. She pressed redial and it went to his voice mail a second time. She went toward the kitchen, dropping her shoes by the back door and her purse on the stainless-steel island. She dialed the Crawford dealership next. A young woman answered.

"Mr. Crawford went home an hour ago, Sheriff Kenyon," she said. "He didn't say if he was stopping anywhere. You should be able to reach him there. Is everything OK?"

"We're worried about his wife, that's all."

"Oh, nothing to worry about. She's fine. I'm pretty sure she called in here and he talked to her."

Emily felt a surge of relief. She thanked her, swung open the refrigerator, and looked at the foil-wrapped turkey.

Mandy Crawford is fine. I'm in trouble here. What do I do with this thing? I can't make soup for twenty!

She retrieved a large kettle from the rack over the island and started filling it with water. She wrestled with the turkey carcass, snapping the bones and cramming it into the pot. Two cups of mirepoix, a cup of rice, and some salt and pepper, and she was done.


Excerpted from Heart of Ice by GREGG OLSEN. Copyright © 2009 Gregg Olsen. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

#1 New York Times, USA Today, and Wall St. Journal bestselling author GREGG OLSEN has written over twenty books. He has received numerous awards and much critical acclaim for his fiction and nonfiction. He’s been a guest on Good Morning, America; Dateline; CBS Early Show; Entertainment Tonight; CNN; Fox News; 48 Hours; and other national and international TV programs. The Seattle native and his wife live in rural Washington State, where he’s now at work on his next thriller. Readers are invited to connect with him via Facebook and twitter and to visit his website, www.greggolsen.com.

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Heart of Ice 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 80 reviews.
Niner-girl More than 1 year ago
Olsen has a good writing style, fast paced read and interesting twists. I will be reading more from him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I have read by Mr. Olsen and it won't be the last. Fast paced, with twists and turns, I could not put it down. Excellent! --K--
coness More than 1 year ago
This is my first book by this author and I'm planning to look for more. Very well written book of intrigue and suspense. Throughout the book, I changed my mind several times about who the 'bad guy' was. Well done.
suesueriverside More than 1 year ago
Fast,sharp,and super creepy thrilling. (I gave this to my daughter after I finished it) Can't wait for the next book.
BeaBull More than 1 year ago
Once again Gregg shows us how the "bad guy" isn't 100% bad and that you can't spot him in the crowd because he's dressed in black and looks evil. It makes me wonder just how many of the people I come in contact with every day have the potential to do something horrific; and they seem so nice and normal and trustworthy. I love the way Gregg ties reality into his novels! Keep up the good work!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read a fair number of true crime books by Ann Rule and others, and someone suggested this author to me. While this book is fiction, it reads similar to a true crime type of storyline. There are several plots to follow in this book, and the author handles it well. The central plot revolves around a pregnant wife who is murdered, stuffed into a sleeping bag, and tossed into a semi-frozen lake. Her husband, Mitch Crawford, is the immediate suspect, but other "bad guys" begin to make appearances. I won't give the story away, but there are some interesting twists in the story line. For instance, the daughter of the head investigator gets (unknowingly) involved in the case. I found the book hard to put down, and I look forward to reading more by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easy to follow storyline and characters. Really enjoyed reading this book. Have one more of his and will be watching for new ones.
judescorp More than 1 year ago
i haven't finished yet, but this is one of those novels you don't want to end!! i'm savoring every word. who is gregg olson?!?!?? now i must devour all his novels...!
Audimims More than 1 year ago
Love this author, great writing style, can't wait to start a new book and always sad when I am done because I enjoy the read! I have read four of his novels and I haven't been disappointed. This one had two plots (crime) a couple of other as well and he handled them very well.
Carol Greene More than 1 year ago
Keeps you on your toes, No way to see all the twists and turns that you go on, very violent and graphic and not for the faint of heart, good book,,,,,,,,
Rerich More than 1 year ago
Mr Olsen's book kept me riveted from page one to the end, where upon I immediately ordered the rest of his works creative artistry. The story twists and turns like a body swinging from the gallows. His charcter development makes the feelings of the players almost palatable to the reader. This is a TRUELY terrifying book honestly deserves to be in the HORROR category!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the second book I have read by Gregg Olsen. I am instantly pulled into the story line, and I can't seem to put the book down. His books are suspenseful, characters are described well, story line is easy to follow. I just love the way he writes overall, and I would recommend this book to anyone who likes mysteries, suspense, thrillers, and murder and mayhem.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it!
RhettNC More than 1 year ago
This is the second Nookbook I have read by Gregg Olsen in the past two weeks. I am now a fan and will look for other exciting suspense-filled novels by this great writer. He is definitely one of my favorite authors now along with James Patterson and Lisa Gardner. Five stars for this great thriller.
Patreader More than 1 year ago
Heart of ice is a very good police procedural read, as well as exciting and page-turning. I like Sherrif Kenyon and her daughter, though, I would have like Jenna to show more remorse for "unsuitable" sorority girls. But Michael Barton is a sympathetic character though he did get his just deserts. Altogether a good read to emerge yourself in.
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