Murdock Cracks Ice, by Robert J Ray: Detective Matt Murdock Takes on Organized Crime in Seattle

Murdock Cracks Ice, by Seattle-based novelist Robert J. Ray ($14.95, 262 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-881-0), first published in 1992, is back in print. Fans of the hard-boiled but soft-hearted detective Matt Murdock will soon be able to obtain Ray’s other books in the much-acclaimed mystery series: Bloody MurdockMurdock for Hire, and Dial “M” for Murdock. Murdock Cracks Ice the only book of the series that takes place in Seattle.



“Hard-nosed P.I. fare, with romance singeing the edges while our hero tries to toe the no-commitment line. Good reading, with frisky Chen and Hana definite scene-stealers.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“The novel, crammed with action, moves rapidly on Ray’s smooth prose and strong characterizations. Unlikely as it may be, Ray and Murdock make it believable.”

—San Antonio Express-News

“For all the violence of the drug scene, the lean, rich characterizations provide a break from the grim realities that feels very much like life, in which love and the companionship of others bring relief and hope. Then, too, the plot moves briskly, with a kind of spare clarity that reflects Murdock’s personality.”

—Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, MA

“Robert Ray has woven a complex web of crime and intrigue that is sure to snare the reader and keep him hooked. And Murdock’s chili recipe is a good one, too!”

—Mostly Murder

“A welcome addition to the ever growing ranks of fine Seattle mysteries.”

—Seattle Times/Seattle Post-Intelligencer

A deadly killer has iced Rollie Nielsen, a smart college kid with a brain for chemistry, and his dad wants to know why. Enter Matt Murdock, a tough-and-tender PI who is willing to get his hands dirty in search of the truth. Rollie had a weakness for classy women and easy money, a combination that led him to found a drug lab. No one knows exactly where he was working and what he was cooking—presumably “ice,” the street name for methamphetamine hydrochloride. Rollie pissed off a lot of bad guys on both sides of the law, who are busy messing up Murdock’s already messy life. Leaving behind a few bodies—some of them friends—Murdock departs smoggy Newport Beach, California, for cloudy Seattle, Washington, where he hopes to unearth Rollie’s lab. With the help of wannabe detective Louie Chen and a sexy female acquaintance of Rollie’s, he just might succeed—and find a little romance along the way. That is, if he can keep his hide in one piece. Not easy, when you’ve got the biggest drug kingpin in Seattle on your tail.

Says Ray, “Matt Murdock is a hard-boiled private eye driven by two opposing needs: first, the need to set things right; second, the need to survive. Leaving the palm trees and smog of Southern California, I brought Murdock to Seattle where early on we met Earl Emerson. Earl advised me to use the mountains, rain and trees of the Northwest for Murdock Cracks Ice, my fifth mystery. So I focused on landscape, rain-slick streets, gray skies and silvery mountains.

“Murdock was right at home breathing the rain-fresh air. He discovered that not all victims had to be bikini-clad sun-tanned starlets–UW grad students can go just as wrong as blond beach bunnies and bad guys live on Puget Sound in gated estates behind stone walls while they plot their evil. And Murdock’s got to set things right.

“Resurrected by Camel Press, Matt Murdock, P.I., has settled in and he’s revving up again.”

ROBERT J. RAY is the author of seven previous novels: Cage of Mirrors, The Heart of the Game, Bloody Murdock, Murdock for Hire, The Hitman Cometh, Dial “M” for Murdock, and Merry Christmas, Murdock. A sixth Matt Murdock mystery—Murdock Tackles Taos—in in process. Ray is also the author of a popular non-fiction series on writing, The Weekend Novelist, and he shares writing techniques on writing on his blog. A native of Texas, Ray holds a PhD from the University of Texas, Austin. Tuesdays and Fridays, he writes at Louisa’s Bakery and Café in Seattle. For more information about the entire Matt Murdock Mystery Series, click here.

Murdock Cracks Ice is available in 5X8 Trade Paperback and Kindle on,,, and Amazon Japan. Bookstores and libraries can order wholesale through or Ingram. Libraries can also purchase books through Midwest Library Service or Follett Library Services.

Read on for an excerpt:

“You know my name,” I said. “I don’t know yours.”

She shifted down for the climb. “My last name’s St. Cloud. It’s French Canadian. My initials are … H.L.”

What do they stand for, the initials?”

“The H stands for Hana. It’s pronounced Hah-nah. The L stands for Lakota. Kids in school made fun of me, calling me Hey-nah and Tonto Stupid and other less creative variations, so I made them call me H.L.”

“Made them how?”

She showed me a fist. “I was a scrappy kid.”

“Lakota, that’s Indian, right?”

“It’s a Sioux language. My grandmother’s maiden name was Mary Hana Lakota. My father, he was French Canadian, decided it would test me to go through life with a name that sounded Indian.”

“You look Indian.”

She smiled at that, a secret smile, and in the streetlight I saw teeth and a tightening of her chin and throat. There was a rip in her parka, along the shoulder seam on the right. A strand of dark hair hung down along her cheek. I was aware of her legs, the strong thighs firm and round inside the faded jeans, and I wondered, as she made a left onto her street, how she would look with the hair let down, riding on a white horse, naked, through the streets of a medieval town.

Dream on, Murdock.

“You say what you mean, don’t you, Murdock?”

“Saves time.”

“In answer to your implied question, I’m one-quarter Indian, mostly Sioux, with probably some Chippewa and Algonquin from my father’s wide-reaching roots. He was a liar and a storyteller who tailored truth to fit his mood. Here we are, home again.”

Inside now, out of the rain, she parked in carport number 307 between a Dodge minivan and a Jeep Cherokee topped with ski racks. We climbed out. She directed Louie Chen to a visitor slot and she laid down some law about our prisoner.

“I don’t want him in my house. He can stay until we get Mr. Murdock bandaged. Then he’s out of here. Understand?”

“We got it.”

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