Investigating a reality TV show that’s facing threats and accidents, PI Jack Stratton finds himself snowbound with a murderer in the continuation of Greyson’s (The Girl Who Lived, 2017, etc.) thriller series.
Ex-cop Jack and his fiancee, Alice, jump at the chance to do investigative work for McAlister Insurance. The undercover gig involves the reality competition show Planet Survival, which lost a crew member in an avalanche last year and more recently received a note threatening other crew members’ lives. There’s no discernible connection between these events, but the insurance company wants Jack and Alice to ensure they’re unrelated. Producer Leah Coleman, however, wants Jack to travel solo to Mount Minuit with the cast and crew. Alice isn’t happy about Jack going alone, but she can look into the alleged accident at home, and there’s no Wi-Fi or cell service on the mountain. Moreover, she has a lot on her plate. She asks Kiku Inuzuka, a dangerous but dependable female yakuza (Japanese mobster), to help track down the man. On Mount Minuit, Jack poses as the crew’s gofer, enduring bully/cameraman Ollie and the show’s insufferable host, Gavin Maddox. But a menace looms: someone is leaving more threatening messages and sabotaging gear. Aggravating their troubles is a blizzard, which makes it exceedingly difficult to search for the people who go missing, some of whom later turn up dead.
While Greyson’s preceding installment was a breezy mystery, this one significantly cranks up the action. The crew, for one, has avalanche charges, which can control when a potential snowslide will occur and likewise pose a constant threat with a killer on the loose. The author fills the pages with atmosphere befitting the turbulent blizzard, including Jack discovering unknown footprints in the snow or short-roped with contestant Chiri during a particularly furious wind. At the same time, there’s a sturdy whodunit running throughout: as Jack struggles to keep himself and others alive, Alice is unraveling the bizarre circumstances of a crew member’s avalanche death. She inches closer to a killer’s identity, which is not immediately revealed to readers. Adding to the already dense mystery is Kiku’s advancing manhunt. The ragtag crew generates myriad murder suspects but also provides fodder for a biting critique of reality shows. The magic of television, for example, presents one individual as wholly capable when the opposite is true. And while Jack, as gofer, incurs blame for most on-set mishaps, the former military man could theoretically be a contestant, using his skills to survive severe weather and a nameless murderer. There are shades of humor, though it’s mostly dark. Perhaps the best moment is Jack assuring everyone he’s not the killer by pointing out that he could—but hasn’t—killed every person in the room.
An unequivocal series highlight with a laudable blend of action and mystery.