A Cold and Lonely Place
Sara J. Henry
Broadway Books/Crown Publishing, November 2013
From the publisher—
Freelance writer Troy Chance is snapping photos of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival ice palace when the ice-cutting machine falls silent. Encased in the frozen lake is the shadowy outline of a body—a man she knows.
A lurid news story goes viral, throwing suspicion on one of Troy’s housemates. Troy is assigned to write an in-depth feature on the dead man, who turns out to be the son of a wealthy Connecticut family playing at a blue-collar life in this Adirondack village. As Troy digs deeper into his life and mysterious death—working with his bereaved sister, reclusive girlfriend, and helpful neighbor—a string of incidents makes it clear someone doesn’t want the investigation to continue.
What Troy discovers threatens to shatter the serenity of these mountain towns, and she must decide which family secrets should be exposed, and how far her own loyalty can reach.
I’ve always liked mysteries involving journalists because they’re instinctive investigators without having the professional label of a private or police detective. The first Troy Chance book has been on my TBRR (To Be Read Radar) for quite a while and I was delighted to get a chance to read this one. My excitement was not misplaced.
First, let me mention one of my favorite fictional climates—cold. I say fictional because I hate cold in real life. Central Virginia gets cold enough, thank you, and I’ll never move further north. Visit, yes, but never move. I suppose my liking of it in books is because I can enjoy the ambience without the agony but it’s also because it can put the characters in such climatic peril that you wouldn’t find in, say, my town. So, I’m drawn to books like A Cold and Lonely Place because I’m immediately pulled in by knowing the cold is certainly going to play a part. In this case, as in a few others I’ve liked, the cold is itself a character.
I also like Ms. Henry‘s style in throwing the reader into the story from the get-go. On the very first page of Chapter 1, we know something is terribly wrong and the tension rarely lets up from then till the end. Troy has to walk a fine line between natural bias in favor of her housemate and the straightforward, honest study of the man found in the ice. She can’t allow agendas, hers or anyone else’s, to get in the way.
Unfortunately, Troy’s in-depth investigation leads her into the crosshairs of someone who wants her to stop before she digs too far, learning things that are meant to be kept secret. Along the way, the young man, Tobin, is revealed to be a very different person behind the playboy facade and she’ll also learn much about herself and the choices she has to make. Friendship, loyalty, truth—all will be tested.
I did a fair amount of shivering while I read A Cold and Lonely Place and it wasn’t just because of the deep-winter Adirondacks. Ms. Henry caused a few shivers, too, with the literally bonechilling mystery of the dead man in the ice and with all the emotions she evoked while Troy and other people all around her faced things that sometimes are better left hidden. To say that this is a haunting story is to only scratch the surface and I am now a fan of Sara J. Henry.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2013.