ALINA ADAMS – Murder On Ice. Berkley, paperback original; 1st printing, Nov 2003.

ALINA ADAMS Figure Skating

   What sport is more open to corruption (in terms of the judging) than figure ice skating? In terms of inside information, there is no one more likely to know than Alina Adams, also known in the real world as figure-skating expert Alina Sivorinovsky.

   Here’s a quote from page 3:

   …in only ten days of competition, they’d already seen eleven hysterical meltdowns, eight formal complaint about biased judging, seven countercomplaints about biased refereeing, five screaming matches, four out-and-out fistfights, two reporters getting their credentials pulled, and one arrest (disturbing the peace; Belgium’s ice skater decided to celebrate his bronze medal by doing a naked Yankee polka on the roof.

   And this was all even before the Italian judge turned up dead.

   Television sports network 24/7 is there to cover the action, and working for 24/7 as a figure-skating researcher is Rebecca “Bex” Levy, in whose lap falls the task of determining whether Silvana Potenza’s death was an accident, or if the fact that she voted with the Eastern European countries against the skater from the U.S. had something to do with it.

   Her investigation is something the skating federation would rather keep under wraps. From page 38, where she is talking to Gil Cahill, her executive producer:

    “But,” Bex offered timidly, “doesn’t the ISU want the ratings to be high? I mean, it’s their world championship we’re promoting. The more people who watch, the more people –“

    “The more people will plant their eyeballs on all that ISU dirty laundry! Are you kidding me? Those droopy pinkies in the ISU are flaking in their sequined panties about the kind of dirt a real investigation could turn up!”

   Politically correct, not. Adams also has a light touch that you could either find very amusing or wince at very easily. From page 114, as Bex’s investigation is starting to gain some headway:

   Bex worried. And not merely because she may have just finished having lunch with with a cold-blooded killer. Or because, earlier, she’d been alone in a hotel room with a cold-blooded killer. Or even because she very possibly had no idea who the cold-blooded killer really was, which, in her well-read opinion, really raised the odds of said cold-blooded killer deciding to practice a bit more of his cold-blooding killing, this time in her direction.

   I’m inclined to go with the former — amusing, that is — until the thought struck me, around page 168, that first time authors really should not write nearly 300 page novels the first time they author a book.

   Humor is a tough commodity to maintain, in other words, and maybe I ought to be careful myself. The process of solving this case is also a matter of detection by gradual elimination, until there’s only one possibility left, and then Adams keeps you wondering because there is still plenty of book left when this crucial point in time occurs.

   Overall, though, this is a better-than-average debut, and I recommend it, leaving open only the question, if this is to be a series (which it is), how many murder investigations in the rather insular world of figure-skating can there be?

— November 2003

       The Figure Skating Mystery series —

1. Murder On Ice (2003)
2. On Thin Ice (2004)

ALINA ADAMS Figure Skating

3. Axel of Evil (2006)
4. Death Drop (2006)
5. Skate Crime (2007)

[UPDATE] 12-16-12.  So the answer is five, which is more than I would have guessed at the time I wrote this review, and all in all, a pretty good run. For more on the author, including her other, non-mystery work, check out her website here.