Kitty Sewell's Ice Trap
starts with a bombshell. Dafydd Woodruff, who's desperately been trying to conceive a child with his wife, receives a letter: "Dear Doctor Woodruff, I hope you don't mind me writing to you. I think I'm your daughter..."
Suddenly, a relatively innocent past takes over his present life, and that of his wife. It further develops that there isn't just a daughter; this purported "daughter" is actually one of twins, a girl and a boy. Deep in the remote, sub-arctic wilderness where Dafydd had worked 15 years earlier, these children were conceived and born to a woman for whom he felt little but animosity. She was--and still is at the time the novel takes place--head nurse in the hospital where Dafydd did a locum. He was running away from a tragic medical accident, and this distant area seemed like a good place to escape to.
DNA tests are ordered immediately to clear Dafydd in his wife's eyes. The tests are positive, the marriage is very precarious, and Dafydd goes back to the Canadian wilderness to sort things out. What he finds there is complex and compelling. The surprises are not set-ups but develop organically, making the story believable. This is the extremely self-assured debut of a writer to watch. She has deftly created landscape, character, mood and suspense to bring her story to its snapper of a conclusion. --Valerie Ryan
From Publishers Weekly
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.)
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