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Ice Trap: A Novel of Psychological Suspense Hardcover – February 5, 2008

3.9 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; First Edition edition (February 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416539972
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416539971
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,744,020 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Kitty Sewell makes her debut with "Ice Trap," a novel of suspense that opens in 2006. Dr. Dafydd Woodruff is married to Isabel, an intense woman who is longing to have a child. They are both in their forties, and their fertility specialist tries everything before he reluctantly admits defeat. Isabel is bitterly disappointed; her desperation to conceive is adversely affecting the couple's relationship. "He'd tried to tell her that something vital had been lost, that he now felt too old to be a father--but Isabel was unwavering in her determination to press on."

Next, Sewell takes us back in to 1992, when Dafydd fled to a frozen wasteland called Moose Creek (population just over 4000) in the Northwest Territories. It was "a godforsaken outpost to which no sane human being, least of all a doctor, would ever dream of going voluntarily." He retreated there after having made a serious medical error that left him shaken and remorseful. Sewell describes the offbeat men and women whom Dafydd encountered. One of them was Sheila Hailey, an arrogant nurse who mocked and criticized Dafydd at every opportunity.

"Ice Trap" has an intriguing premise and an original setting. Sewell expertly describes the challenges of staying alive in an Arctic town where the inhabitants must do battle with a forbidding climate that can bring about frostbite or even death. In Moose Creek, people drink too much, smoke heavily, and enter into sexual relationships with abandon, not worrying too much about the consequences of their rash behavior. The residents of this inhospitable place include Native Americans, blue collar workers, and misfits who cannot function in society.

When he later puts down roots in Wales, Dafydd hopes that he has left Moose Creek behind him forever.
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Format: Hardcover
Ice Trap never quite got off the ground, so to speak, for me. The basic idea (from the dust cover) that Dafydd Woodruff has children back in northern Canada that he's sure he didn't father sounds appealing. That DNA tests show the children are his provides complications that should yield an interesting mystery that you look forward to seeing solved--rather like the classic locked-room murders that John Dickson Carr and other writers are famous for. You know the murder occurred, and you know that you're going to enjoy seeing how it was done. So Ice Trap is like that, or should be like that.

After the first 40 or so pages I realized that I wasn't enjoying the book as much as I should. The characters weren't as believable as I would have liked, and how they responded to situations left me a bit uncomfortable. There are flashbacks to Woodruff's life at Moose Creek in Canada in 1992. The Canadian scenes are helpful to the book--in terms of a sense of place--they are well done. But the people seem unrealistic in ways. Later, Woodruff returns to Moose Creek to try to unravel the mystery. One of the twins insists he's her father, the other twin--a boy--insists that Woodruff is not his father. It seems a bit off-kilter, and it doesn't feel right. I found that I was curious about how the mystery would be solved, but not excited by it.

In retrospect, I think that having twins added unnecesary complications to the plot. I kept thinking about monozygotic/dizygotic identical/fraternal twins and DNA. If you have a male and a female (as in Ice Trap) the twins must be fraternal/dizygotic, and the chance of both having exactly the same DNA is negligible.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Despite seeing a number of critical reader's reviews about Ice Trap here on Amazon (and many very good ones too) I ordered it, because a friend recommended the novel to me with unbridled enthusiasm.
I can truly say that it's one of the most interesting novels I've read in a long time. It's marketed as a thriller, and I have a feeling that it's here the problem lies for both the author and her readers. The American market thinks of thrillers in terms of bloodshed, domestic violence, pedophilia and gruesome murders. Along comes the ubiquitous police detective/ investigative journalist/ forensic pathologist to cleverly sniff out the truth. The reader buys a thriller expecting to be thrilled to the point of the ridiculous on every page.
Well, Ice Trap is not about that. It's a totally different kind of thriller, where the characters are complex, most of them neither good nor bad, but real, and the setting draws you in so that you literally live in the cold harsh climate of Moose Creek. The suspense is subtle but insistent and the plot twists are truly ingenious.
I looked up the authors website and saw that Ice Trap has won prices and has been short-listed for a couple of prestigious awards in Europe. I can see why. Can't wait for Bloodprint, her next one!
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Format: Hardcover
Got intriqued of the book after reading a review of it in our local newspaper by a local college professor. Being of Scadinavian origin ( as is the author), I felt immediate connection.
The work environment in a remote hospital, where most of the employees come from outside, and stay a short time, is also familiar to me after doing that kind of contract in a foreign country as an emergency room RN.
The author crabs your attention from the first chapter, and keeps it to the end. Most of the action described is plausible, and the mystery part is unique as well. I will look for this author's books in the future, and my copy of "Ice Trap" is on the way to Alaska, where a relative is on a 3 yr contract as a physican on a remote island.
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