Snow Candy brings back Carl North, the small-town detective that Southern Ontario author Terry Carroll introduced in 2006’s Body Contact. North has now established himself in a different town, acquiring a host of new problems in the process: a teetering marriage, estrangement from his children, new co-workers who don’t like his tendency to follow his own hunches, a New Year’s Eve marked by raging fires, the discovery of two burnt bodies he refers to as “crispy critters,” and the destruction of a local strip club.
The strip club – named Saint Tease – provides the entry point for North’s police investigation, one that quickly sucks him into a criminal vortex. That’s because one of North’s hunches concerns the protection of a Russian-born stripper who seems to know too much about the murders as well as the town’s burgeoning drug trade. When her fate spirals fatally downward, North’s involvement becomes yet more personal, cementing his me-against-the-world mindset and adding further stress to his personal relationships.
Snow Candy benefits from the darkly humorous tinge Carroll brings to his prose, as well as a remarkable economy in storytelling and pace, but ultimately fails to rise above standard crime fiction fare. North’s colleagues are thinly drawn, their potential to interest the reader is far from realized, and the story’s twists are easy to spot coming. And though North himself is caustic and full of one-liners, he’s too much a conventional lone wolf to hold a reader’s interest for long.
The novel can be enjoyed, however, for its insights into the workings of small-town crime and policing. This elevates Snow Candy to the level of solid crime fare.