Chill Factor by Sandra Brown

Chill Factor by Sandra Brown © 2006 Pocket

Did this one because it was a relatively cheap audiobook. Thought I’d made a shrewd bargain, at first.

Lily Burton, just divorced from small-town Sheriff Dutch Burton, is stranded during a snowstorm-of-the-century in her and Dutch’s former vacation cabin in the North Carolina mountains, stranded by accident with the man of her dreams, adventure writer, Ben Tierney, whom Lily discovers might be the serial killer of five local missing women! Good Misery-esque setup, an external dilemma with the weather, an internal dilemma whether Tierney is going to be the love of Lily’s life or the end of it.

If Chill Factor had stayed in the cabin with Lily and Ben it could have been really good. Unfortunately, it wandered far from the cabin, into subplots involving Dutch’s friend, Wes Hamer, the town bully, and Wes’s poisoned relationship with his son, Scott, who has another poisoned relationship with his schoolteacher, Marilee Ritt, sister of the town pharmacist and gossip king, William Ritt. These various relationships were kind of amusing, but ultimately had no bearing on the real story of whether Ben was a murderer and whether Lily would get out of the cabin alive.

One of the side characters just mentioned turns out to be the real serial killer, but Brown could as easily have pinned the murders on any one of the side characters. There was no particular motivation for the crimes—they just had to be pinned on somebody other than Ben to make a happy ending.

Chill Factor started out with a good idea, but devoted too much time to one-dimensional bit players. I cared about Lily and Ben, but not about Dutch-Wes-Scott-Marilee-William. If it had focused more on the main characters and less on the window dummies, Chill Factor could have been hot. But it didn’t, so I must coldly resign it to my recycling bin.

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