Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Cold & Lonely Place: Review

Sometimes letting the truth out lets people heal, and sometimes it makes things worse. And you couldn't really know which, until you did it, and sometimes only later. (p. 229)

When freelance writer Troy Chance decides to track the progress of the construction of the
Saranac Lake Winter Carnival ice palace from start to finish, she finds herself in the middle of a bigger story than she could have imagined. Preparations for the ice palace have just begun--and she is out on the lake getting details for a story on the homemade ice-cutting machine and planning an interview with one of the ice cutters when it becomes apparent that the men have cut something more than a chunk of ice out of the frozen waters. The men have found a body and it's the body of a man Troy knows--Tobin Winslow. 

One of Troy's roommates had been dating Tobin and soon Jessamyn falls under suspicion.  Tobin was the son of a wealthy family who had made a place in the Adirondack village and the media come running at the least hint of scandal.  Many of his friends turn against the young woman in an effort to place blame.  The editor of the local paper asks Troy to do a series of in-depth articles on Tobin--both on his death and on his life. As Troy begins to dig into Tobin's past, she comes across secrets that have long been buried and she isn't sure what is relevant to the story she needs to tell or how much of it relates to Tobin's death.  

Tobin's sister Win arrives and urges Troy to write about whatever she finds out--good and bad.  But the cabin where Tobin had been living is searched and trashed and both women receive harassing notes and phone calls. It seems that someone has a lot to hide and thinks that Win or Troy may have something of value that Tobin left behind.  Troy will have to decide which secrets must be told and which need to be kept hidden--and no matter what she decides it looks like somebody is going to suffer.

This a quiet and powerful book. More than a mystery, it's a story about secrets and how they affect people.  And it's a story about how we all affect each other.  It's a "what really happened" and "how did it happen" kind of book instead of a whodunnit. While the focus may be on Tobin and what happened to him out on the ice that night, we are really concerned with the people who have been left behind.  Tobin's death brings to light a lot of secrets regarding his family--secrets that his friend David Zimmer needs to talk about and his sister Win needs to hear.  Through his death and Troy's investigations following it, friends will be made, a father will be found, and lives will be touched.  And so will the reader.  Sara J. Henry has written a powerful story that brought tears to my eyes on several occasions. With memorable characters and an interesting storyline, she's definitely given me a series that I want to read more of--I'll be going back to read the first book (Learning to Swim) and I'll be looking forward to new entries in the Troy Chance collection. Four stars.

**Oh...and cheers for her homage to Ngaio Marsh's heroine Agatha Troy! It's nice to see the hat tip to one of my vintage mystery authors.

Some people you love while they're there, and some people you love forever, whether they're there or not. ~David Zimmer (p. 198)

This, I realized suddenly, was friendship. You didn't always agree, and you both might do things the other person wished you didn't, but it didn't mean things came to a grinding halt. It didn't mean you stopped being friends. You got over it, and you moved on. (p. 228)

Trying to figure out what dead people intended could drive you mad, especially when many people didn't really know what they wanted even when they were alive. (p. 262)

...sometimes you can tell what someone is like by the space they leave. ~Troy Chance (p. 265)


J F Norris said...

What's the Ngaio Marsh reference? Or do I have to read the book to find out?

Bev Hankins said...

Named her main character for Agatha Troy.... (also supposedly her brother is named for a Marsh character--I'm assuming his name is Roderick or Alleyn--but I missed the definite reference if it's in there).

Debbie Rodgers said...

This sounds like a great new series!