Brad Shade is a man of many talents, but more than a few limitations. A near-star hockey player, he retired from the game with one good knee remaining and took up scouting for the NHL's L.A. franchise. He's pretty good at it, but because of some recent management changes, his job security is iffy. He's studied criminology though, and has done a bit of detective work, with a little help from his dad who's a retired police sergeant, so he does have options. While scouting in Regina (that's up on the chilly plains of Saskatchewan, eh?), he learns that an old teammate has just committed suicide in a small town just four hours away. He would have taken a pass, but with his girlfriend pointing out his problems with commitment issues and not supporting old friends, he decides to look in on the widow. Before long he finds that all is not as it seems in sleepy little Swift Current, which is a decidedly unfriendly kind of place.
This is the second in the Brad Shade series, but while it could have stood a tad more back-story, it works fine as a stand-alone novel. Shade is a curious fellow, who is clever and witty enough that you want to like him, but sleazy and arrogant enough to make you reconsider. That tantalizing dichotomy is nicely balanced and adds some depth to the story. This isn't as sophisticated and complex as some thrillers, but there are several layers to peel back, which suits Shade's reluctant hero style.
You don't have to be a hockey fan to enjoy the book, but it does help. Most denizens of the Lower 48 have no comprehension of what a huge part hockey plays in small town Canada; it makes high school football in rural Texas look like a passing fancy. This story brings some of that to life and brings the book up a level.
If you're not well versed in Canadiana, then reading this book will be a little like reading an English novel, and some references and colloquialisms might slip past you. (e.g. "Enjoying a Canadian" is not a sensual reference, but indicates what brand of beer you're drinking.) But it's a lot of fun and pretty fast moving, and will probably hook you on the Shade series for life.