Sunday, June 12, 2016

“The Girl in the Ice” by Robert Bryndza – A Chilling Connection

The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza - book cover
Serial killers have captured our imaginations since the times of Jack the Ripper; the idea of an unpredictable, homicidal psychopath who cannot be reasoned with really helps to bring out the fear and paranoia within us. After all, in modern society where most people learn to keep their “dark urges” covert, anyone could potentially be a serial killer, even those close to you. Fortunately, in real life serial killings really aren't all that common, with there certainly being more of them in literature than anyone else. With his debut crime thriller, The Girl in the Ice, Robert Bryndza adds a valuable gem to that collection.

The novel begins with the introduction of Detective Erika Foster, returning to the job following a long leave of absence. Without tarrying on too much, a poor worker discovers the body of a missing girl in a frozen pond, with obvious signs of homicide all around. She turns out to be a rich socialite whose father has more than a few connections in high places. Though her superiors are almost consistently shooting down her ideas, Erika believes more and more that this murder is connected to previous killings with the same modus operandi; three other young girls, all prostitutes, were strangled and dumped in some body of water. As the clock ticks, an increasingly desperate race is run by the police to catch the killer before he strikes again, or perhaps even vanishes for good.

For someone who used to write romantic comedies before this, Robert Bryndza sure has a great handle on how to make a thrilling and captivating novel. To begin with, like most great thrillers it doesn't use flowery language, overarching descriptions and long chapters. Rather, the text is simple and to the point, has a few descriptions here and there where appropriate, as well as short and intense chapters. The story never stops progressing, feeling like the answers are always at our fingertips... only to spawn more questions.

While most of the characters don't get much focus in terms of development, the ones we stick to throughout the story are fleshed out enough to feel different and worth paying attention to. Erika herself naturally gets the most background story, amongst other things exploring the reason she was away from the job in the first place, the busted operation that resulted in her husband's passing. The author really took great care in depicting Erika as a regular human with her strengths and flaws, with real vulnerabilities that expose her to palpable danger. On more than one occasion we get to panic for Erika's life, and even though she is the protagonist you'll genuinely be anxious to know if and how she makes it out alive. The killer is also someone we become well acquainted with thanks to short chapters that show things from his/her perspective. While they do feel a tad cliched, they work well in establishing just how vile of a killer we are dealing with.

The murder mystery itself is a fantastic whodunit, one that keeps on taking twists and turns, going down increasingly dark alleys, to the core of a vile and rotten human nature. The further it unfolds, the more momentum the story gains as the stakes get higher and higher, and when the final resolution does come it hits you like a load of bricks in the face. While veterans of the genre might be able to figure out one aspect or another of the mystery, the whole truth is really woven together very well and presents a rather unexpected picture, and yet one that makes complete sense.

All things considered, The Girl in the Ice is a fantastic murder mystery thriller, one that will grip from beginning to end anyone who enjoys this genre. With this marking the beginning of the DCI Erika Foster Crime Series, one can only have very high hopes for what comes next.


Robert Bryndza

Robert Bryndza


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Robert Bryndza is a British author who has mostly written romantic comedies, until recently when he published his debut crime thriller, The Girl in the Ice. It has marked the beginning of the DCI Erika Foster Crime Series, with the second book, The Night Stalker, published in June 2016.

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