Billy Pearce is a small-time drug dealer and a criminal. Tom Morgan is a successful New York lawyer visiting his old hometown of Coldwater. Tom’s brother Joe is a local sheriff who just learned Billy was found dead. Together, the brothers will try to solve his murder. However, as Tom soon learns, Coldwater has plenty of other sordid and shameful secrets – some of them tied to his own family. What starts as a simple murder investigation begins to uncover a sinister conspiracy involving a smuggling ring and a local bio-research startup.
COLDWATER REVENGE by James A. Ross is, quite simply, excellent. This crime story offers plenty of thrills as the author keeps adding twists, turns, reversals, and reveals. Even better, Ross manages to resolve most of them believably. This alone makes COLDWATER REVENGE a great summer read. But Ross is more ambitious than merely telling a good yarn. His fictional town of Coldwater is a vivid depiction of a struggling rural community. As businesses and people move out, the town is gradually dying. Desperate or unable to make ends meet, some of the remaining residents resort to crime. Situated near the Canadian border, Coldwater is a place with a long history of smuggling. First, it was slaves, then alcohol, and now drugs. Furthermore, COLDWATER REVENGE explores our protagonist Tom Morgan and his complex and messy relationship with his brother and the place where he grew up. Tom and Joe see each other almost as alternate versions of themselves – The One Who Got Out versus The One Who Stayed. While Tom ambitiously — one could even say desperately — climbed the corporate ladder in the big city, Joe fought equally hard to build a life in their hometown. While there’s some resentment between them, there’s also brotherly love.
COLDWATER REVENGE strikes a perfect sweet spot: it is pulpy enough not to be dull or depressing, yet smart enough not to feel lazy. Ross is currently working on a second Coldwater Mystery novel. Titled Coldwater Confession, it should come out in April 2022. This reviewer can hardly wait.
James A. Ross’ COLDWATER REVENGE is a fantastic and thrilling noir story full of twists and turns which simultaneously offers a surprisingly vivid depiction of a struggling rural community beset by secrets and crimes.
~Danijel Štriga, for IndieReader