Cold to the Touch
March 29, 2024

Book Review

Cold to the Touch

reviewed by Carolyn Scott


Anchorage Detective DeHavilland (Havi) Beans is disappointed when he stops for his regular early morning coffee at Snow Bunny Baristas and finds his favorite barista not there and the kiosk closed.

Not only does Jolene Nilsson make the best coffee, Havi also enjoys his morning chats with the college student and part time bikini barista, who like him, grew up in a small Alaskan town. His concerns about her are later realised when her naked body is found lying in the snow, mutilated by wild animal.

With no trace evidence left on Jolene’s body, except for a single white rose found lying nearby, the police have little idea who could have done this to the beautiful young woman. Two days later another missing young bikini barista is found dead with all the hallmarks of the first murder and again no forensic evidence except a single white rose. Havi is concerned that they have a serial killer on their hands. Although you might think that Anchorage would lack the beach vibe where bikini barista kiosks are often located, there are a dozen to choose from in the city all employed young beautiful women. Havi also has the personal worry that his younger sister has just started working as a barista in a mall.

Set just before Christmas in Anchorage, the cold, bleak atmosphere of winter in Alaska works well to set the scene and the inclusion of chapters narrated by the killer and his victims add to the build-up of danger and tension. Like his siblings Havi was named after an aircraft by his bush pilot father and is an intriguing and very likeable character. A gentle part indigenous, part Japanese Buddhist, he keeps a cool head in danger and prefers reasoning with suspects rather than shooting first.

Since Havi’s last partner retired, the only other unpaired detective on the force, Ed Heller, has so far refused to be partnered with him. However, as the case develops, they are forced to work together, which they do surprisingly well along with a female FBI agent, Isabelle O’Reilly sent in from Portland. Short staffed and struggling to review hours of CCTV footage, they also receive some unexpected help from Cam, a young, autistic bus driver. Havi’s ex-girlfriend Raisa Ingalls is also called on as an expert and it’s clear she and Havi have some unfinished business.

This is an excellent debut novel. A very well written police procedural, well plotted with some dark and chilling undertones in the atmospheric Alaskan winter. Hakoda has created a wonderful character in Beans, a man with many dimensions and flaws in his personality and personal life and it would be great to see him feature again in a sequel or series.

With thanks to Crooked Lane Books for a copy to read.


Cold to the Touch is available at:

More Police Procedurals


Police Procedural Features