In The Bleak Midwinter by M.R. Sellars is the first Special Agent Constance Mandalay novel. Mandalay is a character from his Rowan Gant Investigations series. I haven't read any of those novels so I had no background going into this book. Luckily I didn't need it. Sellars doesn't spend a lot of time going over things that happened in the other books.
Mandalay is sent to the the small town of Hulis, Missouri where every Christmas, for the past eight years, a man is brutally butchered. The body just shows up in a house where something really terrible happened back in the 70s. Of course the police and the F.B.I. keep the house under surveillance but somehow the deed gets done.
Mandalay knows that there's something she's not being told. The last agent sent to Hulis won't talk to her. The files are just a little sketchy. Every new lead she ferrets out doesn't lead anywhere. She begins to think this might be a career breaker.
Two things you need to know about this book. It is, in effect, a locked door mystery and I really hate those. Once I realized that was what was going on I wasn't expecting much. The other thing is that it's a "paranormal thriller" so the solution doesn't have to make a lot of sense. It does does fit together but the ending was somehow unsatisfactory. I can't explain how but I really felt that something was left out when I was finished.
Having said that, it's still a decent book with an interesting bunch of characters. I'd be willing to give another Constance Mandalay novel a try.
I received a review copy of this novel.