Disclosure: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author and/or publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion. A positive review is not required. Also, I may earn a commission on some affiliate links below, whose fees support independent bookshops. Hope you will consider getting it at a local bookstore.
Published on: 15 August 15
Published by: The Wild Rose Press, Inc
Type: series, no cliffhangers
Genre: Teen & Young Adult, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Humorous Fiction
Tropes: cozy mystery tropes
Author: B.T. Polcari
Book Length: 309 pages
Read: 01 June 2022
Shelved: 10 June 2022
Rating: 4 / 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
After encountering a brief power outage at work, college student Sara Donovan might be allowing her imagination to run wild. The main vault in the Carlton Museum holds the Fire and Ice Exhibit, a collection of rare gems, including the Star of Midnight, a 175-carat diamond. Although all the stones are accounted for, Sara suspects the Star of Midnight was stolen and replaced with a fake.
While conducting her own investigation, what Sara uncovers is beyond even her wildest imagination: a coded message, papers with strange characters, and a mysterious set of numbers carved into an office wall. Despite dismissive historians and other experts, she is certain these clues point to a mysterious centuries-old legend.
Unfortunately, her colorful history of usually being right, but always being wrong, means she must solve the mystery to prove her theory.
Disclosure: I highly suggest readers start from Book 1 so as not to miss out on the “importance” of these guest characters to the plot and why Sara has to trust/not trust them, especially when they seem to know more than they say
As expected in most mystery theme books, Fire & Ice is told from Sara’s POV only. The writing is clear, descriptive, and fascinating, although with some “overwhelming parts, especially when ciphering codes and math jargon spewed out.
The story continues with Sara Donovan working at another museum (different from Book 1) and on the trail of another mystery that seems to have her using her investigative skill again. She tackles interesting theories and intriguing locations that, at first glance, are not related to the questioned mystery until the many layers of mystery peel off.
It was great to see “the gang” from Book 1, helping Sara again, especially Mrs. Majelski! I miss that spunky lady’s sense of humor and cryptic messages to Sara. Mejelski’s more fierce in this book and will surely win readers again!
I love how the author portrayed other supporting characters like Zoe, Matt, and even her father, clarifying a lot of technical stuff about code-breaking theories Sara got herself into. Even with the many new cast of characters helping Sara in the book, the hero and problem-solving came from Sara.
Although many moments showed how “lucky” Sarah stumbled on relevant tips and essential clues because of her friends, everything still felt organically developed as the story progressed.
The writing is well researched, especially with the clues and connections. The pacing is just right, but I must mention that there were moments that frustrated me. It was when the author would add a specific detail that I thought would add to Sara’s advantage or not but later found out that it didn’t “work.” Some parts repeated, like Sara’s boyfriend, Connor (in Book 1), was mentioned often to vouch for Sara’s credibility constantly. It’s great and good that Connor reassured that particular friend of Sara’s credibility, BUT that friend’s faith in Connor showed less and less each time Sara discovered something extraordinary and even started doubting her at some point in the book. I am not sure if maybe that’s the author’s point – to provide much doubt and “stack everything against Sarah” that when it all came down at the end, it will have more “weight.”
Ultimately, Fire & Ice is an excellent cozy mystery read with many code-cracking mysteries, suspense, and danger. It was so engaging that I could not stop reading and then later reflect on each inch of the clues. I was taken out of my comfort zone of cozy mystery and thrown into the headspace of double meanings, misleading clues, and well-placed deflections. This book is full of twists and turns that will make one flip-flop between who is involved and who is the “mastermind.” It is one marvelous adventure anyone can have in problem-solving.
Don’t just take my word for it. Read it and find out for yourself!
– cute doggie Mauzzy helping out then leading Sara to go further
– excellent character development versus Book 1 for MC
– new casts and old converging to help solve the mystery
– ample Mrs. Majelski’s “air time” that provided the fierceness and spunk
– bigger picture lies outside of the museum piece (the diamond) and becomes a more explosive revelation in the end
– code-cracking skills well used and explained thoroughly
– repetition of some minor events seems to distract than emphasize; could have done without
– not enough of Connor Reed (!!!)
About the Author
B. T. Polcari is a graduate of Rutgers College of Rutgers University, an award-winning mystery author, and a proud father of two wonderful children. He’s a champion of rescue pups (Mauzzy is but one example), craves watching football and basketball, and, of course, loves reading mysteries. Among his favorite authors are D.P. Lyle, Robert B. Parker, and Michael Connelly. He is also an unapologetic fantasy football addict. He lives with his wife in scenic Chattanooga, Tennessee.
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