During the Depression, painter Carl Wilcox works at his family's Corden, South Dakota hotel because his father is ill. Three individuals, traveling separately, book rooms in the Wilcox Hotel. Lillybelle Fox is in Corden conducting research into the town's founders with an emphasis on Colonel Cutter. The next day, Lillybelle is found murdered and the other two guests (Murdoff and Olson) are gone.
Carl decides to investigate the killing by continuing Lillybelle's research in a hope that it will reveal a motive for murder. He quickly finds several people with an incentive for killing his guest and most of them start acting ugly towards the amateur sleuth. It seems that everyone has a secret, but especially wanting to keep quiet their clandestine past is a very powerful family with strong state-wide ties.
THE ICE PICK ARTIST is a superb historical regional mystery that brings to life the Depression in South Dakota. The who-done-it is fun and Carl is an intriguing character. Readers will taste the dust while driving all over the state in Carl's Model T. Harold Adams demonstrates why he is a Shamus Award winner with this tale that will have readers running to the used book stores for previous novels in the series.