Written by CP Wilson — Alice Connolly leads a double life. Her public persona is the author of a highly successful fantasy series of vampire novels. In private she is Tequila, a serial killer who targets wife beaters. So far, Tequila has killed 16 men.
Ice Cold Alice opens with Tequila masquerading as Sonia, the 17th woman Tequila has found and given a new identity to – name, passport, air ticket abroad and a bundle of cash. Tequila murders the husband, Mike, in a particularly brutal fashion using a unique weapon, before leaving the body behind and returning to her Edinburgh apartment where she records the kill on her blog. So far hardly anyone has read it and the deaths have gone unconnected. Tequila is off the radar.
However, all of that changes when DI Kathy McGuire investigates Mike’s death. Quickly, she pieces together the fact that this is not an isolated incident, finding that multiple women and their children have disappeared immediately before the murders of their partners, never to be seen again.
The police also discover Tequila’s blog and suddenly her posts and Twitter feed go from zero to thousands of views and comments, some in support, many not. But Tequila has more men on her list to kill, more women to save. She cannot stop just because she has become visible. So Tequila continues her crusade while McGuire rushes to stop her. When one of Tequila’s kills doesn’t go quite to plan it seems McGuire finally has the forensic evidence that might just lead to an arrest. McGuire has a short list of possibles and goes through them one by one, getting ever closer to Tequila…
There are three rising stars of indie fiction rolled into Ice Cold Alice. First is CP Wilson, pen name of genre-crossing author Mark Wilson, whose works include autobiography, dystopian, superhero and now thriller fiction. Second is the publisher, Bloodhound, which has splashed itself all over the Amazon best seller list with a shrewd selection of quick-read crime novels. Finally is the protagonist of this novel, Alice herself who deserves further exploration in a series.
Ice Cold Alice is split across several narrative timelines and perspectives – first person past and present (Alice) along with first and third person past (McGuire) moving between previous and current events. Sounds complex? Theoretically, yes. However, Wilson manages the threads very well and the back story creates a clear justification for the behaviour of Alice/Tequila. You will be rooting for her, as well as the detective!
We see into the lives of two women, each with their own mission on different sides of the law. Both have their own tragedies and situations to manage. Through the flashbacks we see McGuire entering CID as a detective constable, dealing with misogyny and prejudice, but rising up the ranks while attempting to have a home life. We also see Alice pre-Tequila and experiencing what drove her to become a serial killer, how she learnt and applied her trade.
Wilson produces several rabbit out of hat revelations which keep the pages turning at a rapid pace. He creates powerful characters which exert a strong pull on the reader and a believable narrative.
Ice Cold Alice is released 20 April.
CFL Rating: 4 Stars