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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 34.
- Review Date: 2007-10-08
- Reviewer: Staff
At the start of Sewell's intriguing if uneven debut, Dafydd Woodruff, a surgeon in present-day Cardiff, Wales, receives a letter from a 13-year-old girl claiming to be his daughter and to have a twin brother. Flashback 14 years to Moose Creek, a tiny outpost in Canada's Northwest Territories, where Dafydd took a year-long post to clear his conscience after botching the surgery of a young boy in Wales. In that isolated community, Dafydd met Sheila Hailey, an acerbic head nurse, who would later accuse him of fathering her twins. Predictably, Dafydd returns to Moose Creek after learning that the DNA test he demanded proves he's the father of Sheila's children. In his bumbling efforts to unearth the truth about the past, the empathetic Dafydd stumbles on long-buried town secrets. Despite her unusual locale and a strong supporting cast, Sewell is less sure at creating suspense, often stretching out moments of little narrative importance and skimming over others that later prove vital. Still, readers will find this first novel, which was shortlisted for the CWA's New Blood Dagger Award, compulsively readable. (Feb.)
There is no respite from the cold in the next offering, either; Kitty Sewell's Ice Trap takes place, for the most part, in the wilds of Canada's Northwest Territories, in a remote Arctic outpost called Moose Creek. Back in 1992, Welsh surgeon Dafydd Woodruff did a stint at the Moose Creek hospital, and a night of excess during his stay there is about to come back to haunt him. Out of the blue he receives a letter from Canada, which begins "Dear Dr. Woodruff, I hope you don't mind me writing to you. I think I'm your daughter." There is more; the girl has a twin brother, and it seems that there is DNA evidence to back up her claim. Naturally, this does not set well with Dafydd's current wife, especially as she has been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for quite some time. Dafydd realizes that no meaningful investigation can be done from his home in Wales, so he takes leave from his practice and heads across the ocean to assess the situation firsthand. In short order, he will begin to question everything he believes about his first Canadian sojourn, unearthing clues of a conspiracy so audacious it will leave him gasping for breath. Ice Trap is cleverly conceived and brilliantly rendered, with vivid descriptions of the chilly north that will have the reader heading for the nearest closet in search of gloves and a scarf!