In Hoag's swell, sexy thriller (after Lucky's Lady, 1992), an eight-year-old boy is kidnapped, and two emotionally battered cops find love. There's a cold snap in Deer Lake, Minn., but it's all hot sparks when Agent Megan O'Malley meets police chief Mitch Holt. She's struggled to become the first female field agent for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension; he has "Harrison Ford's looks and an athlete's body" (sorry, Harrison). On the outside they're two tough cookies who've been scarred by life. But inside, their hearts are as mushy as marshmallows that have burned too long in the fire. When Josh Kirkwood is kidnapped after hockey practice, Megan and Mitch launch a search as the wind chill sends the temperature plummeting to 60 below. The kidnapper, who sends cryptic messages with pieces of Josh's clothing, is an evil maniac who likes to manipulate his victims. Josh's mother, Hannah, suffers most. A doctor who runs a hospital ER and still bakes her own cookies, she blames herself for neglecting Josh; her husband blames her too, even though he was committing adultery with a neighbor when Josh called him for help. Hannah turns to Father Tom, a hip cleric who plays a GameBoy, wears cowboy boots, and feels a little unpriestly about his parishioner. Hoag inserts strong doses of violence (a suspect slits his wrists with pieces of his own glass eye; the villain breaks Megan's hand), skillfully handles a complicated plot, and makes us care about her central characters. The whodunit is compelling, but never more important than the evolution of relationships. Sliding unashamedly from police procedural to purple prose, Hoag savvily steeps her novel in the conventions of steamy romance, where the color of the police chief's "whiskey" eyes are as important as the clues.