On Thin Ice
Unpolished writing and implausible plot lines combine to make On Thin Ice a mediocre, not-very-suspenseful story when it had the potential to be more. It was particularly disappointing because I had enjoyed the author’s earlier The Ripple Effect quite a bit.
Ellie Kramer, or Ellie Crandall as she was born, works in the Boulder District Attorney’s office while she saves money for her third year of law school. It’s also a great opportunity for her to research an old case: her father’s. He was wrongly convicted of rape and murder, and justice and revenge have been Ellie’s driving force ever since. She comes to believe that one of the two rookie policemen who worked the case, Finn Rasmussen and Michael Callas, set her dad up and actually committed the crime himself. But which one? And how does she figure it out? Why, she gets to know them, of course.
Ellie’s a hard character to know. On one hand, she’s smart and nice to others. On the other hand, she’s selfish and hard, focused on her goal. For example, after the innocent man figures out who she is and confronts her then dumps her for thinking he’s a murderer and rapist (I’d dump her, too), she worries the he will hurt her again. She jumps to conclusions about which man is guilty, and her reasons for doing so are not founded in reason at all. She calls herself a whore a few times, and this reader thought she was right. She feels guilty for lying to people, but she comes clean only when busted.
Michael Callas is a hard-working cop. Nicknamed Robocop, he’s tough and surly, but Ellie manages to get under his skin. Finn Rasmussen had a horrible childhood. Flashbacks illustrate just how bad. He’s emotionally unstable, too, but also manages to fall in love with Ellie.
Although Erickson has written several books this one seems to have been written by a different author, or been handled by a weaker editor. On Thin Ice has a less polished feel to it, and the writing is a problem. The author repeats phrases too many times when trying to make points in the story. Over and over again we read how Ellie shops in thrift stores, buying designer clothings for under $10.00; how Finn Rasmussen and Michael Callas were the rookie cops on the case; how she knows her father was innocent. The repetition interrups the narrative flow of the story. Also repetitive and unhelpful was that Erickson kept having the other characters think Ellie was smart and beautiful without ever really showing Ellie doing anything smart. Her behavior was more, pardon the cliche, TSTL than clever or smart (she sleeps with one man and she spends weekends away with another before she knows which one is guilty).
The other thing was the illogic in the story and characters. Ellie was about 11 when her father was accused, but her parents adamantly refused to put her on the stand. She was her father’s alibi, for crying out loud. Makes no sense. Also, while she dates both Rasmussen and Callas, they both fall in love with her. What are the odds on that one? Even the DA Ellie works for has the hots for her, in a plot line that’s barely explored and totally extraneous!
This story could have been much more suspenseful and tense had the reader not known who the killer was, and much more enjoyable if the manuscript had been edited with a stronger hand. Revenge is a basic emotion that can make people do unbelievable things. It’s the author’s job to make the reader believe it. Unfortunately, this author didn’t make the story hit the mark for this reviewer.