Book Reviews: Curses and Smoke by Vicky Alvear Shecter, Love’s Sweet Sorrow by Richard Brawer, and Shadows on a Maine Christmas by Lea Wait

Curses and SmokeCurses and Smoke
A Novel of Pompeii
Vicky Alvear Shecter
Arthur A. Levine Books, May 2014
ISBN 978-0-545-50993-0
Hardcover

Curses and Smoke sizzles, like the soles of the feet racing away from the viciously spewing Vesuvius. Packed with heat, this book engulfs the reader with warmth and comfort while experiencing the friendship between Lucia and her best friend, the very pregnant and central Cornelia. Often smoldering, as the relationship between the daughter of the hate-filled, bitter Gladiator School Owner, Lucia, and his Healer Slave, Tags, deepens. Slow-burning admiration bordering on obsession adds flair as the spoiled-rich-man-playing-as-a-gladiator Quintus reveals his massive self-absorption and his desire for Tag’s approval.

Rumblings among this perfect blend of characters keep the pace moving as quickly as the animals fleeing Pompeii. Eruptions of anger, lewd displays of the overall disdain for women, and vile acts supporting and perpetuating the ignorance send red hot flames through the reader. Tension builds in direct correlation with the gathering of force within the earth and Cornelia’s expanding belly. Tender moments like those between Tags and his (self-appointed) assistant medicus, the young slave Castor; temper the heat quite kindly.

The interaction between the Roman and Etruscan humans create a spark. The author guarantees flames with her articulate presentation of both Roman and Etruscan gods and goddesses. Her knowledge of these histories, coupled with her clear understanding and empathy of the relationship the humans had with their gods and goddesses alludes to Ms. Shecter having had personal experience with her own goddess.

Divine assistance is the only explanation as to how Ms. Shecter brilliantly presents the geographical phenomena recorded during the weeks preceding the unfathomable eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, while encouraging fond recollections of Apollo, Hercules, Venus and Poseidon simultaneously introducing Mephistis, Samnite goddess of poisonous vapors, and Turan, the Etruscan goddess of love.

The author faced and conquered the formidable challenge of honestly portraying the ridiculous, inexcusable dismissal of females. She artfully hints at it with comments from the men in power: Lucia’s father, her “betrothed” and even Cornelia’s husband. The point is driven home in a heart-wrenching scene when Lucia confesses her consuming grief over the deaths of her baby sisters.

Throughout the engrossing story, there is hope. Genuine love, the true fondness for another person is rarely expressed as beautifully and sincerely. Decisions that Lucia and Tag are forced to make as the inevitable looms closer, demonstrate the kindness, generosity and support that we are all capable of.

Although only a small boy, Castor’s role is essential. He brings smiles, forces individuals to look deeply within and encourages the reader to keep perspective, while reminding us that there is always at least one reason to carry on.

I found this to be especially spectacular and I will be recommending it often.

Reviewed by jv poore, November 2014.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Love's Sweet SorrowLove’s Sweet Sorrow
Richard Brawer
Vinspire Publishing, August 2014
ISBN 978-0-9890632-7-2
Trade Paperback

Jason Sorren has put his murky past behind him and has landed on his feet in a big way. He’s changed his name to hide his past, has an impressive career and enjoys the best of everything. He has had many a girlfriend but none that caught his fancy as much as the ever elusive Ariel Hammond. But when Jason discovers a note that reveals a connection between two people involved in diverted arms shipments, he puts himself and Ariel in danger. After that the book becomes basically a cat and mouse chase between Jason, seeking the truth and gathering evidence, and the people trying to eliminate everyone with knowledge of the conspiracy. Oh, and there is a love story of sorts between Jason and Ariel.

The book was a fast paced read with many different plot threads to interest just about everyone. That would be my one criticism of the book. The author seems to want to please everyone and may instead leave everyone feeling a little empty. The book is basically a thriller with a love story, but also brings in a bit about the Quakers (Ariel’s religion) and Native Americans (a tie in with Jason’s childhood). And for good measures, the author threw in a mob connection.

The main characters are strong enough to carry a series. Perhaps the author should have used several books to cover the various topics. I would enjoy reading more about Jason and Ariel, but maybe with fewer topics involved.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Caryn St.Clair, December 2014.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Shadows on a Maine ChristmasShadows on a Maine Christmas
An Antique Print Mystery
Lea Wait
Perseverance Press, September 2014
ISBN 978-1-56474-547-7
Trade Paperback

Maggie Summer has come to Maine during Christmas vacation to visit a man she would like to be more than a boyfriend. The obstacles in the way of furthering the relationship include her decision to adopt and his opposition to the adoption. In addition, he is caregiver to his 90 year old aunt, and living in different states completes the unfavorable equation.

Sub-zero weather in the days leading up to Christmas adds challenges to Maggie’s visit and the seeming unwillingness of her friend to include her in his future business plans almost assures an end to their relationship. When an acquaintance is murdered and Maggie’s assistance is sought to find the killer, Will becomes even more withdrawn and secretive about his business affairs. In spite of the approval of Will’s elderly aunt, can the holidays bring anything but more distress to a troubled relationship?

Intriguing characters and a Christmas snow-covered Victorian town provides a lovely setting to a compelling plot. Recommended reading over the holidays.

Reviewed by Elaine Faber, October 2014.
Author of Black Cat’s Legacy.

Book Review: Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman

Cover of SnowCover of Snow
Jenny Milchman
Ballantine Books, February 2013
ISBN 978-0-345-53421-7
Hardcover

Nora and Brendan Hamilton live in an old farmhouse nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. Nora wakes up one wintry morning to find that her world has been turned upside down. Nora’s husband Brendon is a police officer in love with his wife, his job and his hometown. However, this wintry morning Nora discovers that her husband has committed suicide. He has not left a note or anything to indicate why he would take his own life.

As Nora attempts to find out the reason for her husband’s suicide, she finds every door is closed. No one will give her answers. Nora has never felt completely accepted by her husband’s family and friends and she has no one to turn to in her search for answers.

Every stone she uncovers only leads to more questions. This intriguing book leaves the reader quickly turning pages and looking for answers.

This is Milchman‘s debut novel and the winner of the Mary Higgins Clark Award. I hope to read many more novels by this author.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, June 2014.

Book Review: An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris

An Officer and a SpyAn Officer and a Spy
Robert Harris
Alfred A. Knopf, January 2014
ISBN 978-0-385-34958-1
Hardcover

You could say that this is the story of Alfred Dreyfus who was convicted for treason in Paris in 1895. But, oh, this historical thriller is also much more than that.

The story is told from the point of view of Colonel Georges Picquart, head of counterespionage, who finds himself re-investigating the case after Dreyfus’ imprisonment. I found Picquart to be a very interesting guy. He’s been in the military most of his life, doesn’t have much of a personal life, is an ambitious man out of sync with those around him. He doesn’t buy their “If I’m told to shoot someone, I shoot” mentality. Picquart questions things. He investigates. He puts his career and even himself in great jeopardy.

You won’t need to know anything about the Dreyfus affair or 19th century France to enjoy this book. I waited to read more about the actual case until after I had finished the book so I wouldn’t know what was going to happen. Even if you tend not to like historical fiction, you may very well like this book. It could be classified in several genres: a mystery, a thriller, espionage, conspiracy. What I found most fascinating about it is that it makes sense of how a situation can evolve into a conspiracy without anyone ever planning one in the first place.

There are many characters involved here but it’s never a problem remembering them all. There’s a list of characters at the beginning of the book. And the author is very good about reminding the reader who each character is each time he brings them back into the story.

My favorite quote: “If I pull back now… I’d be obliged to spend the rest of my life with the knowledge that when the moment came, I couldn’t rise to it. It would destroy me – I’d never be able to look at a painting or read a novel or listen to music again without a creeping sense of shame.”

It’s a compelling read, written in a very engaging style with a lot of intensity and passion. It certainly made me think. My favorite kind of book.

Reviewed by Constance Reader, February 2014.

Book Reviews: Resolve by J.J. Hensley, A Delicate Truth by John Le Carre, and Deadly Harvest by Michael Stanley

ResolveResolve
J.J. Hensley
Permanent Press, April 2013
ISBN: 978-1-57962-313-5
Hardcover

This debut novel probably tells the reader more than he/she wants to know about running a marathon and the various Pittsburgh neighborhoods in which it is run, but it ties together the plot of several murders. Dr. Cyprus Keller is the protagonist.  He is a professor at a relatively undistinguished Steel City university and is one of several academics forming a running group in addition to their teaching responsibilities.

When one of his students is found murdered, he becomes part of the police investigation.  And then several more murders occur, and he is a common denominator.  Deeply involved, he undertakes his own investigation into the crimes, and as a result is an active participant in the developments that arise.  Early on, he discloses that he will murder one person during the marathon, and as the race progresses, the reader awaits the act and how Keller proposes to get away with the deed.

Each chapter begins with a description of the various phases of the 22.2 mile race, sometimes dropping a clue, others just describing the neighborhood or the pain of running.  The summary is then followed by a narrative of events leading up to the novel’s denouement. It is an interesting technique.  While a reader can become bored by a lot of minutiae, the novel is cleverly written and for a first effort deserves praise.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, August 2013.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A Delicate TruthA Delicate Truth
John le Carre
Viking, May 2013
ISBN: 978-0-670-01489-7
Hardcover

In the present atmosphere of clandestine operations, the result of which the public has been ill-informed and too often kept in the dark, John Le Carre has fashioned a novel built around a bungled black op covered up for three years.  The story begins with the hatching of “Operation Wildfire,” comprising British special force soldiers and American mercenaries employed by a private company.  The aim is to capture an arms dealer who, according to intelligence, is to visit the British colony of Gibraltar.

A Foreign Office functionary is selected to be the on-the-spot eyes-and-ears for a minister of Her Majesty, nominally in charge of the operation.  Like many such actions, it results in failure, but is declared a total success, despite the fact that two innocents are killed and the subject never captured.  Three years later, various persons, directly or tangentially, separately begin to question the silence and attempt to uncover the facts.  The promised “transparency” never seems to arrive.

After a somewhat muddled beginning, in which Mr. Le Carre jumps all around, a bit confusing to the reader, he begins to move the plot straightforwardly and with dispatch.  The author raises the basic question of right and wrong, also lambasting the use of private armies to wage “little wars” around the globe and old boy networks where mistakes are covered up and witnesses bought off.  A topic that is, unhappily, very timely.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, September 2013.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Deadly HarvestDeadly Harvest
Michael Stanley
Bourbon Street Books/Harper Paperbacks, May 2013
ISBN: 978-0-06-222152-0
Trade Paperback

In this, the fourth Detective Kubu mystery, a new character, detective Samantha Khama, joins the Botswana CID, the only female on the police force.  And immediately shakes things up, insisting on an investigation into the disappearance of young girls.  After initial misgivings, Kubu takes her under his wing, and together they uncover what appears to be the harvesting of human parts for muti, a witch doctor’s potion customarily made with plants and herbs and possibly animal parts, which is supposed to enhance a person’s power or luck.

The plot follows one murder after another beginning with that of a leading opposition politician, followed by that of two young girls. Obviously a serial killer is at large, and Kubu and Samantha have their work cut out for them.

This is a grisly story, rich in detail.  Written by a team of two that is quite knowledgeable of southern Africa, they have created a memorable cast of characters, and it remains to be seen how they will develop this latest, terrific, addition to the Kubu series.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, October 2013.

Book Review: Six Months Later by Natalie D. Richards

Natalie D. Richards Six Months Later Website Banner

Title: Six Months Later
Author: Natalie D. Richards
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller

*********

Goodreads

*********

Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble       Kobo       Google Play       Amazon

**********

Six Months LaterSix Months Later
Natalie D. Richards
Sourcebooks Fire, October 2013
ISBN 978-1-4022-8551-6
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

She Has Everything She Ever Wanted. But Not Her Memory…

When Chloe fell asleep in study hall, it was the middle of May. When she wakes up, snow is on the ground and she can’t remember the last six months of her life.

Before, she’d been a mediocre student. Now, she’s on track for valedictorian and being recruited by Ivy League schools. Before, she never had a chance with super jock Blake. Now he’s her boyfriend. Before, she and Maggie were inseparable. Now her best friend won’t speak to her.

What happened to her? Remembering the truth could be more dangerous than she knows…

One of the most important parts independent presses play in the book industry is in giving a voice to many authors and subgenres that the larger publishers fail to take on. In today’s world of extensive self-publishing, I think those small but traditional presses are even more important because so many of the self-publishers jump into the favorite themes of the day and struggle to make their work unique. I’m a huge fan of the currently popular young adult dystopian and post-apocalyptic—and will continue reading as much of it as I can find—but have long felt that there isn’t enough good young adult mystery fiction. I have found some, to be sure, but it’s just not a widely-populated field.

And then along came a chance to review Six Months Later by Natalie D. Richards and it *sounded* like the kind of young adult mystery I’ve been looking for. Imagine my delight when I found that this is precisely the right book. Ms. Richards clearly knows how to construct a mystery with puzzles and red herrings galore and she even manages to make the romantic angle a puzzle, too, as the reader is just as confused as Chloe when it comes to the two boys in her life, Blake and Adam.

Character development is a strong element here and, except for the gaps in Chloe’s memory that naturally create holes in what we know about her, I really felt a connection to nearly all the main players (those connections not necessarily being favorable). I even found the requisite romance—it’s difficult to find a young adult novel without at least a hint of hormonal-activity-that-simply-must-be-true-love—to be believable and Chloe’s mother’s demanding attitude is just like some other parents I’ve known. My favorite character, though, is Maggie, a girl who has been betrayed  and is having a hard time forgiving. Maggie is also an integral part of why I like Chloe so much—she values friendship and loyalty to the highest degree.

And then there’s the plot. There are a few little flaws here and there but this is a throat-grabbing thrill ride that just won’t ease up on the questions and the suspense. I can’t say much about it without spoilers so let me just tell you this—my daughter and I were heading home after a road trip and it was getting dark. I had mistakenly packed my ereader light in the suitcase I couldn’t get to so I kept cranking up the font size to get just one more sentence, one more word before total darkness descended. Then, when we got home, I fed the cat, did a fast check of my email and settled down for the night with my Nook. I didn’t stop reading till the very end because I quite simply couldn’t. This book is that good.

 When this author publishes her next YA mystery, I intend to snatch it up as soon as I possibly can. Ms. Richards, you need to write faster 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2013.

About the Author

Natalie D. RichardsDouble RWA Golden Heart Finalist Natalie D. Richards won her first writing competition in the second grade with her short story about Barbara Frances Bizzlefishes (who wouldn’t dare do the dishes). After getting lost in maze of cubicles, Natalie found her way back to storytelling, following the genre of her heart, teen fiction. Natalie lives in Ohio with her amazing husband, their three children, and a giant dust-mop who swears he’s the family dog.

Author Links:

Website  //  Twitter  //  Goodreads  //  Facebook  //  Pinterest

Book Reviews: Catch Me by Lisa Gardner, Accelerated by Bronwen Hruska, Creole Belle by James Lee Burke, and The Impossible Dead by Ian Rankin

Catch MeCatch Me
Lisa Gardner
Dutton, February 2012
ISBN: 978-0-525-95276-3
Hardcover

D.D. Warren, the Boston homicide detective featured in this widely-read series, faces two challenges in this latest installment: a new baby boy who keeps her and her boyfriend, Alex, up through the night and, now that she’s back from maternity leave, a complex mystery surrounding a young woman who approaches her with the admonition that she expects to be murdered four days hence and she hopes D.D. will handle the investigation. What to do?  How can you undertake the investigation of a murder that hasn’t even taken place yet?

The prospective victim’s name is Charlene, known as Charlie throughout.  She’s spent the past year in training:  running, boxing, and learning to shoot in anticipation of the big event.  It seems her two best friends were strangled on January 21 in each of the previous two years, and logic dictates that it’s now Charlie’s turn.

The plot traces the next days and the events that take place, which demonstrate D.D.’s evolving character change brought about by her domestic developments and Charlie’s preparations to meet her expected fate.  An interesting aside within the sub-plot, which addresses murders of pedophiles, involves a young boy lured into a potential sex act by the user of an internet game appealing to youngsters.  The author uses the technique to tell the story by alternating third person p.o.v. to relate D.D.’s activities, and first person describing Charlie’s.

Not a thrill a page, perhaps, but certainly an excellent thriller, and recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, July 2012.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AcceleratedAccelerated
Bronwen Hruska
Pegasus, October 2012
ISBN:  978-1-60598-379-0
Hardcover

Once the reader gets past and accepts the initial premise of this novel, that there is an almost universal conspiracy to boost children’s learning power by declaring them victims of ADD or ADHD and prescribing Ritalin or similar drugs, then it becomes a heart-warming story.  Sean Benn, a single father (the result of his wife’s abandoning him and their young son, Toby), is pressured to dose the boy, against his better judgment, after having refused for quite some time.

It should be noted that Toby’s best friend had gone into a coma and died.  The school told everyone it was the result of a peanut allergy. Shortly afterward, Toby fell during PT, suffering from an arrhythmia, and ended up in the hospital, comatose.  From that point the plot takes off in dramatic fashion.

Certainly the novel’s raison d’etre is a significant topic.  When over-medication is routinely used to force students to accelerate their ability to learn, something is wrong.  So exposure is warranted. But to raise the possibility that this technique is so widespread across the country, aided and abetted by pharmaceutical companies, while worrisome, is kind of hard to believe.  But maybe such exaggeration is needed to make the point.  And perhaps “worrisome” is required as well.  Written with a smooth hand and tightly plotted, the book is recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, September 2012.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Creole BelleCreole Belle
James Lee Burke
Simon & Schuster, July 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4516-4313-3
Hardcover

The latest adventures of Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcell read like a massive morality play in 500-plus pages.  The series tales place in southern Louisiana, the bayou country and New Orleans, with all the historic corruption derived from the Civil War and slavery, the oil industry, prostitution and other societal evils.  Dave and Clete are supposed to represent the good fighting the sleaziness.

In the previous entry in the series, the duo suffered near death in a bayou shootout, and we now find Dave in a New Orleans recovery facility in a morphine-induced haze where he receives a midnight visit from Tee Jolie Mellon, a creole barroom singer who leaves him an i-pod filled with music, including three songs she sings and which apparently only he can hear.  Raising doubts that the visit was in fact real.  Meanwhile, Clete is confronted by two goons claiming they hold a marker for a debt he believes was paid off many years before. To further complicate his life, Clete witnesses his illegitimate daughter murder one of the goons.  Then Tee Jolie’s young sister washes up on the Gulf Coast in a block of ice.  An oil well blow-off fouling the environment adds to the corruption endemic to their world.

To say the very least, the plot is a highly complicated series of inter-related components weaved into a long and somewhat tiring saga. The author has stretched his formidable abilities to include wide-ranging comments on a variety of subjects, some poignant, others evocative.  But always clear and concise.  One has to question the violence performed by Dave and Clete in their quest for justice.  Is it excessive and, perhaps, unwarranted?  But certainly it is in character, and the novel is recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, October 2012.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Impossible DeadThe Impossible Dead
Ian Rankin
Reagan Arthur/Bay Bay Books, November 2012
ISBN 978-0-316-07877-1
Trade Paperback

Ian Rankin usually lays a foundation of current and past events in his novels. And, in this second Malcolm Fox mystery, he creates a tale reaching back a quarter of a century, when agitation and violence marked efforts for a separate Scotland. Fox, who made his debut in The Complaints, grows exponentially as a protagonist, along with his sidekicks on his Internal Affairs team, Tony Kaye and Joe Naysmith. They are worthy successors to the now retired Rebus, although more subtle in the presentation.

This murder-mystery has its beginnings in an investigation of fellow cops who may have covered up for a corrupt co-worker, Detective Paul Carter, who had been found guilty of misconduct. The original accuser was Carter’s uncle, an ex-cop himself. When the uncle is found dead, perhaps murdered with a pistol that theoretically did not exist for it should have been destroyed by the police in 1985, and Carter himself dead by drowning shortly afterward, Fox is drawn into his own inquiry outside the aegis of a Complaints review, resurrecting the turmoil of the past and terrorist threats of the present.

Rankin also demonstrates his trademark attention to character development, concentrating much of the story on the deterioration of Fox’s father’s physical well-being and his relationship with his sister, each with sensitivity and care. At the same time, the author shows his talent for integrating the setting, plot and theme, tightly intertwining the various elements.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, November 2012.

Book Review: Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman

Cover of SnowCover of Snow
Jenny Milchman
Ballantine Books, February 2013
ISBN 978-0-345-53421-7
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Waking up one wintry morning in her old farmhouse nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, Nora Hamilton instantly knows that something is wrong. When her fog of sleep clears, she finds her world is suddenly, irretrievably shattered: Her husband, Brendan, has committed suicide.

The first few hours following Nora’s devastating discovery pass for her in a blur of numbness and disbelief. Then, a disturbing awareness slowly settles in: Brendan left no note and gave no indication that he was contemplating taking his own life. Why would a rock-solid police officer with unwavering affection for his wife, job, and quaint hometown suddenly choose to end it all? Having spent a lifetime avoiding hard truths, Nora must now start facing them.

Unraveling her late husband’s final days, Nora searches for an explanation—but finds a bewildering resistance from Brendan’s best friend and partner, his fellow police officers, and his brittle mother. It quickly becomes clear to Nora that she is asking questions no one wants to answer. For beneath the soft cover of snow lies a powerful conspiracy that will stop at nothing to keep its presence unknown . . . and its darkest secrets hidden.

I’ve dithered over writing this review more than any other I’ve ever written and it’s all because I want so much to do it justice without seeming to be overly influenced by the fact that I know the author. I don’t post reviews on Amazon but this is exactly the kind of review their new rules would target even though it is not the least bit fake. So, let’s get the disclaimer out of the way. Yes, I know Jenny Milchman. Yes, I’ve shared space with her on various online elists and groups for a few years now and, yes, we finally met when she and her family traveled through Richmond several months ago. Yes, I have long admired Jenny’s work since before she became published.

It seems like eons ago that Jenny asked if I would read the manuscript of Cover of Snow but, at that time, it  seemed to her as though the eons would never end because she had been on the query and submission path for eleven long years.  Here’s what I had to say about it (not a formal review) in May, 2011—

COVER OF SNOW is one of the best books I have ever read, hands down. The suspense is almost unrelenting and her characters practically breathe on the page because Jenny is so good at bringing them to life. Is it literary? I’d say “yes” because my personal definition of literary is high-quality writing in the mechanics of grammar and construction but also in the evocation of the author’s vision. Most of all, I was struck by the weather which is perhaps the most important character in this story. I’m not talking about weather in the sense of a disastrous storm; this weather, snow and bone-chilling cold, is perfectly normal for the geographic setting but, in Jenny’s hands, has become more than an integral element. It is essential and it is alive. I truly felt the sheer intensity of the cold and saw the seemingly endless vistas of unrelenting white while I was reading as though I were there in the story.

The truly good news was that Jenny had finally reached her goal and found the publisher, the editor, that loved her work, just before I blogged about what I thought then was one of the most engaging manuscripts I’d ever had the pleasure of reading.

And, today, having read the book that was finally published yesterday, my opinion hasn’t changed one bit. The first thing that struck me was that not a whole lot changed from the manuscript I read to the final version. Are there some differences? Of course there are; it’s part of an editor’s job to find ways to tighten the prose, to make it just a little bit better, to catch discrepancies or misplaced words and the like. The truth is, though, that I remembered so much of the story and the words even two years later that Jenny’s editor must not have found many things to “fix”. This finished product is a testament that a talented author’s hard work, patience and perseverance can pay off.

Wedeskyull is still one of the most bone-chilling towns in the lower 48 and it’s not just the weather that causes that feeling. Secrets from years gone by, the heartbreak that can be the result of those secrets, the evil that power can bring, the lengths to which people will go to protect the things that must be hidden, the fear that comes from knowing trust has been misplaced—all come together in a story that kept me on tenterhooks from the shocking beginning to the very sad truths that come to light when Nora refuses to blindly accept her husband’s suicide.  What lies behind the deaths that seem to have no connection? Nora finds that her questions lead to more trouble and frightening events come to a surprising conclusion and make Cover of Snow the perfect literary suspense novel for a cold, wintry read.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2013.