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by Kathleen Taylor

Harper Mass Market paperback (October, 2000)
ISBN: 0-380-81204-5

Reviewed by Karen Meek

COLD FRONT is the fifth and latest in the Tory Bauer series. Tory is an overweight, forty-something waitress and co-owner of the only café in small town Delphi, South Dakota. She shares a trailer with her fellow waitress and cousin, Del and Del’s son Presley. She has a penchant for the music of James Taylor and is clever, witty, and warm hearted.

COLD FRONT begins on very cold and snowy New Year’s Eve. Three strangers arrive in town; Del’s potential boyfriend Ian O’Hara with whom she has been corresponding since placing a lonely hearts advert; Dorothy, a mute woman who applies for the job as cook in the café, and a DJ for the end of year celebrations at the local bar. By the next day, Ian is dead, Dorothy has disappeared, as have the café’s takings, the weather has worsened to a blizzard, there’s no electricity, and Delphi is cut off from the rest of the county. With no police able to reach them, it’s left to Tory and her closest friend Neil to deduce what happened to Ian, Dorothy, and the money.

COLD FRONT is in effect a golden age mystery, all the characters being trapped in one location. The plot as usual is strong but equally as usual, it’s the relationships that make the book. How many regular readers of this series will breathe a sigh of relief that Neil and Tory are finally getting closer? Kathleen Taylor writes with such perception and humour and reflects real life so well that you nod in agreement with Tory’s observations. It goes without saying that the atmosphere of a blizzard situation is conveyed convincingly.

The chapter headings are a bonus pleasure, e.g. ‘WWMMD’ i.e. What Would Miss Marple Do or ‘The Full Monty Python’ where Tory comments on how watching The Full Monty made her realise that Britain has other accents to Liverpudlian (the Beatles) or upper class (Monty Python).

Though COLD FRONT stands on it’s own as a story, the reader would benefit from reading the earlier books to get the back story on the many regular characters and their tangled relationships. FUNERAL FOOD which was issued third, is in fact the first instalment, previously published as THE MISSIONARY POSITION. The second book is the now hard to find SEX AND SALMONELLA. The fourth title is MOURNING SHIFT.

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