One note about the timeline: much like Sue Grafton has done with her alphabet series, which is still set in the 1980s when the first book came out, the Nikki Heat series is now falling behind the present. Because the books have come out once a year for four years, but all four books have taken place over about twelve months, the author has fun with the Rook character talking about wanting to get this hot new product – an iPad – because he likes toys.
The mystery starts with Heat going to the scene of a murder. A woman’s body was stuffed in a suitcase and left in a truck. Heat almost freaks out when she sees the letters “NH” carved into the bottom the suitcase. This is the exact same suitcase that was stolen the night her mother was murdered. Nikki is the one who carved those initials into the suitcase when she was little.
Heat immediately starts two murder boards – one for the current murder and one for her mother’s cold case. Most of the detectives that showed up in the third book reappear in this one to help her. The new Captain – a career bureaucrat who never walked a beat – doesn’t support her. He feels that she should concentrate only on the new case. They have words and he ends up suspending Heat.
Rook uses this opportunity to take Beckett to both
, where her mother went to college, then eventually Paris, where her mother’s college friend took her after they graduated. Why the latter? Because it turns out the woman stuffed in the suitcase is none other than this old college friend of Heat’s mother. Boston
This book is the best of the first four. It has the most cohesive and most moving story so far. It does a great job with all the revelations about Heat’s mother, both by having them be quite different from the show’s revelations, but still having them tie into some other key events in season 4. Much like the show, this book answers some major questions about Heat’s mother’s murder, while still retaining the possibility of returning to the story at a later point.
Frozen Heat had some fun references for people, including ones that are outside both book and show. For instance, two new detectives are introduced – Detective Malcolm and Detective Reynolds. I believe it was this book (although it might have been the third one) that had someone tell Nikki Heat that she would make a good Bond girl. Stana Katic, who plays Detective Beckett on the TV show, had a small role in the Bond movie Quantum of Solace as a Canadian agent.
The dedication of this book will be recognized by anyone who saw the TV show’s season 4 finale.
If you liked the first three books, and especially the third one, then I definitely recommend this one. This is really becoming quite a good mystery series.