Jenny Milchman’s Cover of Snow is a remarkable debut, a gripping tale of suspense in the tradition of Gillian Flynn, Chris Bohjalian, and Nancy Pickard.
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.
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 15th 2013 by Ballantine Books
Three and a half stars: A suspenseful read full of twists and turns, that will keep you turning the pages.
Nora wakes to a splinter of sunshine splashed across her pillow. Confused, she peers groggily at the alarm clock. It is already 7:30 A.M. She and Brendan rarely sleep this late. He always wakes her. She jumps out of bed, eager to find her husband. When she pushes the bathroom door open expecting a face full of steam, she is surprised to find it empty. Then she hears the familiar gurgle of the coffee pot downstairs, and relief floods her as she rushes down to find Brendan. Disappointment and fear surge through her once again, as she discovers the coffee pot brewing in response to the timer, no sign of Brendan. Frightened, she opens the door leading to upstairs......She looks up and catches sight of her husband, dangling by a rope from the rafters. Fear assaults her and blackness engulfs her. Nora wakes to a nightmare. Her loving husband is dead by his own hand, and she has no answers as to why. She thought they had a happy marriage. What could drive her husband to kill himself? Desperate for answers, Nora begins to question and search to find out why her husband committed suicide. What she finds is a dangerous and deadly coverup that just might get her killed. Can Nora uncover the truth under the snow?
What I Liked:
- I am always up for a thrilling, suspenseful read and Cover of Snow certainly took me on a wild, nail biting adventure. This was a book that kept me turning the pages and I was pushing to read just one more chapter well past my bedtime. This is a good, solid mystery that had me guessing up until the final chapters. There are many story threads that the author skillfully weaves together to form a terrifying read. How far will those in power go to cover up a thirty year old crime?
- I admired the writing in this one. I have said this time and time again, I am a sucker for good writing. I am one of those readers that stops and thinks, "wow, I really like how she said that..." Ms. Milchman is indeed a talented writer, not only does she do a good job building suspense and notching up the fear factor, but she manages to do it in a most entertaining way. This is one of those books where the unique metaphors and clever stringing together of words thoroughly impressed me. There are books with boring basic writing, and then there are books with detailed descriptions and wonderful metaphors that make the book even better. This book falls into the latter category. I am definitely going to read another book by this author because I loved her writing.
- For me, this book starts out with this creepy small town vibe, you get this unsettled feeling that the folks in the tight knit community are hiding something sinister. I was reminded a bit of a Stephen King novel and was so curious to find out what the secret was. As the story pressed on, it moved out of the creepy to a more paranoid feeling and then it was more reminiscent of The Firm by John Grisham, without the legal details. This is a book where you don't know from one minute to the next who to trust, people who seemed to be loyal friends, may not exactly be the people you thought. This is definitely suspenseful and full of intrigue. If you pick this one up, prepare to spend a bit of time with it as the mystery will keep you flipping the pages. Don't start this late at night if you are planning on getting up early or you may go into work the next day bleary eyed.
- I loved the snowy winter setting. Ms. Milchman does a phenomenal job of presenting life in a small Northeastern town in the dead of winter. Her detailed frosty descriptions of the frigid weather left me chilled just reading about them. If you have ever experienced an icy cold winter, you will certainly be able to relate, if not this book will provide plenty of detail on just how rough a winter can be. This is definitely the perfect wintery afternoon read. Grab a warm beverage, a cozy blanket and curl up!
And The Not So Much:
- While I loved the pacing and the suspense for the first two-thirds of the novel, the last portion slacked off a bit and at times it got a little predictable. For instance, when people start dying and Nora is on the cusp of getting the big secret out of someone, and then, of course, they are murdered before they can spill. It was very obvious to me that the death was in the cards. At other times, some of the events got glossed over and I didn't think Nora reacted appropriately. Her house burns down under very suspicious circumstances, but it doesn't seem to hardly phase her.
- Nora makes friends with Ned, a reporter, and I just never felt like he was fully developed, nor did I really understand why she was so quick to trust him. Furthermore, he was following up on a story about the police department, and I struggled with this storyline because it just popped up into the plot, and it was a sidetrack conflict that I felt never integrated well into the overall story.
- I had a hard time buying that all the chaos, murder and house fires would erupt over a polaroid photograph taken thirty years ago. I guess I was just expecting the overall motive to be a bit more sinister.
- I didn't like how several threads were left dangling. I wanted to know more about why Nora's mother in law acted the way she did. What secrets had the Police Chief's wife lived with? What really happened to Club's father? Was the police department always corrupt or did it start with the events that happened thirty years ago? Finally, where did all the money come from to support the police department? What happened to Dugger?
- Finally, this is a sticking point for me, but I picked this one up because the blurb compared this book to a Gillian Flynn novel. I read Gone Girl and I can say that this book is nothing like Gillian Flynn's book. Don't read this expecting to get a storyline like Gone Girl the two books just don't compare as they are very different. It is a good suspenseful read, but it doesn't not have the mind blowing, story that messes with your head.
Cover of Snow was an exciting and dangerous thriller that kept me turning the pages well past my bedtime. This book does a great job setting up a creepy, suspenseful atmosphere that will put you on edge. The author does a brilliant job painting frigid winter scenes with her detailed writing. Ms. Milchman proves that she is a talented writer with this debut book, I enjoyed her work despite a few flaws. I can honestly say that I will happily pick up another book by this author as I liked her writing so much! If you are looking for a new thriller novel to read on a wintery afternoon definitely grab this one and snuggle up. Once you start this one, you will be reading fast and furious to find out the answers!
"The mid-winter sky was bruised purple and yellow outside the window, I shut bleary eyes against the light that glared and pounded."
"Without him, I saw myself turning into a person I didn't like, wretched and worn, someone who didn't take delight in anything."
"No one can prevent a suicide. Except the person doing it."
"People in small towns are secretive."
"Don't we always keep things from the people we love most? Especially from them?"
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.