Winter Chill by Joanne Fluke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I received an ARC of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
When I requested this book from Net Galley, I was familiar with the author's name as someone who wrote cozy mysteries with a focus on cooking desserts. I had no idea Joanne Fluke also wrote psychological mystery thrillers, nor did I know she is very, very good at it. In Winter Chill two fathers and their two daughters go snowmobiling together. They are having such a great time that even when one of the pair wants to stop, the other wants to go for just one more run. Ronnie and Jenny Powell wait for Dan and Laura Larsen to finish, but a tragic accident ends their fun on a horrific note. The result is that Dan has become paralyzed and unable to walk. Laura was killed when she struck a piece of farm machinery hidden from view by the snow.
Marian Larsen was mother to Laura, and she has a very difficult time accepting the loss of her daughter. Rather than believe her daughter is dead, she prefers to believe that Laura can still communicate with her through notes she finds tucked away in some of her books. Her husband Dan, after spending 3 days in a coma finally comes around to discover that he has something called Conversion Hysteria. There is no medical reason for his paralysis, and in fact, Dan has very realistic dreams in which he is miraculously able to walk unassisted. He finds this particularly troubling because there is no evidence that he's been walking at night, but the dreams are so realistic he cannot discount the possibility. Meanwhile, Marian makes a stronger and stronger case for her belief that Laura is sending her notes in which she claims to be unhappy because she's lonely. Dan and Marian move further and further away from each other as both of them become more and more involved in their own strange thoughts.
And then other deaths begin to occur. Enough so that people start to think a serial killer is somehow connected to the deaths. The reader is pushed and pulled in different directions trying to make sense of what is happening and who is directly involved in the ever worsening turn of events. There were plenty of twists and turns in the story which made it very difficult to put this book down much less predict how it would all turn out.
I never imagined the ending Fluke gave her story. In my opinion, it was the perfect way to finish the story of people trapped in a nightmare of loss, grief, and blame.
I would recommend Winter Chill to anyone who likes a good, old-fashioned creepy psychological novel of suspense. And I hope Joanne Fluke is considering more novels along this line. She's really got a talent for it.
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