ICE ON THE GRAPEVINE by R. E. Donald

This is the second in the Hunter Rayne Highway mystery series.  I read the 4th one first, and talked about it here, Sundown on Top of the World.   I may actually get to read the other two in the series as well.

In Sundown,  I felt the mystery was secondary to the characters and their stories.   In Ice on the Grapevine,  the mystery took center stage, and it was a good one!

A couple, newly married, in their late thirties or so, are a husband and wife truck driving team.  She is Canadian, working on getting her green card, and the hubs is an American.  The rules are they can each drive in the other country if it is a leg of their destination for the load.  But they cannot drive point to point within the other country.  Doesn’t really have much to do with the story, but I found it an interesting tidbit.

Along a deserted stretch of the highway in California, a local police officer with great ambitions, is called to the scene of a dead body.  But not just your average, run-of-the-mill dead body.  This one is curled up in a fetal position …. and frozen solid.  On the sole of his shoe is one of those bar code stickers.  The cop traces it to the border customs, and from there to the shipper, and from there to the truckers doing the hauling.  Guess who had the load?  Yep, you got it.   They are hauling a reefer … refrigerator trailer …  that has a load of meat destined for a wholesaler in L.A.   They get tracked down, and pulled over, and taken into custody for the death of the as yet unidentified ice cube.

Back in Canada, a young woman is missing her live-in boyfriend.  Because he is missing.  For 6 days now, so she goes to the RCMP, (the cops) and reports him missing.  The ice cube’s photo has been faxed around, especially to this office, because it covers the area from which the shipment originated.  The intake officer says, wait a minute, comes back with a photo, and OMG it’s the missing boyfriend, a musician.

What was a musician doing in a refrigerator truck?  If he was trying to sneak into the US, he had to know that he would last in that truck only about 3 to 5 hours, no guaranteeing someone would open the doors before he froze to death.   But he had damage to the neck, so looked like someone choked him into unconsciousness before shoving him in.

So are the happy honeymooners responsible?  And why?  The wife has a past, but how would that connect in any way to this?

Hunter Rayne, the former Mountie turned over the road driver does his best to try to find the truth and see that justice is done…. not just for the accused but for the victim as well.

Yep.  Thumbs up.  Really liked it.

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