A Cold and Lonely Place: A Novel

( 10 )

Overview

Troy Chance returns in another riveting novel from the author of the critically acclaimed Learning to Swim

*Anthony Award nominee for Best Novel

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 ...

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Overview

Troy Chance returns in another riveting novel from the author of the critically acclaimed Learning to Swim

*Anthony Award nominee for Best Novel

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Featuring an independent and immensely likable lead, riffing on the complicated nature of friendship, and boasting a solidly plotted mystery, this may well appeal to fans of Gillian Flynn.” —Booklist

“Sara J. Henry's stellar debut, Learning to Swim, collared multiple major mystery awards. Now A Cold and Lonely Place showcases Henry's powerful new voice. Set in the Adirondack winter, it is both a deeply atmospheric, seductive read and a captivating literary mystery. Put this one on your must-read list!” —Julia Spencer-Fleming, author of Through the Evil Days

“There is a mystery at the cold and lonely heart of this book, but first and foremost, it’s a poignant and haunting story about Troy’s search for the truth behind a young man’s life… This is a powerful, emotional journey for Troy, but ultimately a hopeful one, as she uncovers the stories behind one young man’s traumatic childhood, stories that will finally redeem him.” —BookPage

“[The] sense of severing all previous ties and never truly getting close to people permeates Sara J. Henry's insightful second novel.... Henry explores the complicated nature of relationships while delivering a suspenseful novel full of unpredictable twists.” —South Florida Sun Sentinel

“A chilling mystery about families and friendships.” —Parkersburg News and Sentinel

"[A] haunting follow-up to her Agatha-winning debut, Learning to Swim ... Adding considerably to the compulsively readable mystery that unfolds … is Henry's bone-deep sense of this terribly beautiful place." —Publishers Weekly

"Henry brilliantly draws us into a terrifying but ultimately affirmative novel in which, once again, love, friendship, and the shining truth about who we really are redeems an otherwise hopeless universe." —Howard Frank Mosher, author of The Great Northern Express

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307718426
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/5/2013
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 132,436
  • Product dimensions: 5.17 (w) x 7.94 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

SARA J. HENRY's first novel, Learning to Swim, won the Anthony, Agatha, and Mary Higgins Clark Awards, was a Target Emerging Author pick, and was named one of Best Books of 2011 by the Boston Globe. Her second novel, A Cold and Lonely Place, is an Anthony award nominee for Best Novel and was a Reader's Digest Select Books choice. She has written for Prevention, Adirondack Life, Bicycling, Triathlete, and other magazines, was an editor at Rodale Books and Women's Sports & Fitness magazine, and was a newspaper and magazine editor. A native of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Sara lives in Vermont. Visit www.SaraJHenry.com.

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Read an Excerpt

chapter 1

We could feel the reverberation of the ice-cutting machine through the frozen lake beneath our feet. Matt Boudoin was telling me this would be the best ice palace ever, and I was nodding, because of course every year the palace seems better than the one the year before. At the same moment, he stopped talking and I stopped nodding, because the machine had halted and the crew of men was staring down at the ice. Then, in unison, like marionettes with their strings being pulled, they turned their heads to look at Matt. Their faces were blank, but we knew something was wrong, very wrong.

We started moving forward. Because this is an Adirondack mountain town and Matt has an ingrained sense of chivalry, he held his arm out in that protective gesture you make toward a passenger in your car when you have to slam on the brakes. But it didn’t stop me.

Later, I would wish it had.

For the first few months of winter, this lake is an expanse of frozen nothingness. Then, seemingly overnight, an enormous palace of ice appears, blocks melded together with a mortar of frozen slush, infused by colored lights that turn it into a fairy-tale castle. You can wander through it, footsteps crunching, breath forming icy clouds, and feel a sense of wonder you haven’t felt since you were a child.

It’s part of the fabric of this town, and the flow of winter is based around it. Never mind the huge expenditure of time and energy. This is Saranac Lake; this is Winter Carnival. Up goes the ice palace, every year with a different design, a different form of magic. This year I was going to track its progress for the local paper, with a photo and vignette every day—I thought I’d write about the homemade ice-cutting contraption, interview one of the ice cutters, talk to the designer. There was a lot you could write about palaces built of ice cut from the lake.

As we reached the circle of men, they stepped back, and Matt and I looked down. What I saw looked at first like a shadow under the ice—a dark mass, debris somehow caught up in cast-off clothing and trapped underneath as the ice had formed. I was wondering why the crew didn’t simply move on to clean ice when I realized the mass had a shape, a human shape. You could see something that looked like eyes and a mouth that seemed open. Right about then Matt grabbed my arm and walked me away from the thing under the ice. We stopped about ten feet away and I sank to my heels, trying to process what I thought I’d seen. Matt whipped out a walkie-talkie and began barking orders as he gestured the men farther back.

For once my journalistic instincts had shut down, and I had no urge to record any of this. I could still envision that face under the ice, as if it were looking at me through a rain-distorted window.

And it was a face I knew.

chapter 2

I live in Lake Placid, ten miles away, in a house so big I rent out rooms, usually to athletes in town to train for bobsledding or kayak­ing or skiing. But sometimes a local turns up, and one day late last summer a girl named Jessamyn knocked at the door. She was thin with long black hair and green eyes that shifted as she looked at you. I wasn’t sure I trusted her. But she didn’t smoke—I’ve had people stare me in the eye and swear they didn’t smoke when they reeked of it—and something about her made me like her. She was happy to take the smallest upstairs room, the one with just a twin mattress on the floor, a child-sized dresser, and a rod to hang clothes on.

She moved from job to job, but that’s not rare here. Lake Placid is a touristy sports town with plenty of low-paying jobs, and people come and go, moving on to Boulder or Salt Lake City or giving up on their particular dream and heading back home to the unexciting job they never thought they’d have to take. Jessamyn had a quick wit and a sardonic manner, and men flocked to her. She’d date them for a few weeks, then discard them as if they were an article of clothing that didn’t quite fit—apparently with no hard feelings on either side. She partied hard in the local bars but didn’t bring it home with her. I never encountered a drunken paramour stumbling down the stairs; her employer never called because she missed a shift. And, like me, she never got involved with any of our roommates. You don’t fish in your own pond; you don’t hunt in your own backyard.

Then she met Tobin Winslow.

I would have pegged him for trouble from the start, with his frat-boy good looks, floppy hair, sleepy brown eyes, and diffident manner. It was written all over him that he was the sort of person who assumes life should go his way, no matter what. He didn’t have a job to speak of, nothing steady, and drove a rattletrap pickup that seemed as much a prop as his Carhartt pants and flannel shirts. I suspected he’d grown up in a world of crisp khakis and button-downs and gone to an elite prep school, then partied himself right out of Harvard or Princeton before drifting up here, where no one ever asked where or if you’d gone to university.

It surprised me that Jessamyn fell for him—actually it surprised me she fell for anyone, because I hadn’t seen her let anyone get too close. But Tobin seemed to appeal to something in her in a way the local guys hadn’t. Maybe she was looking for someone who might take her away from here. Maybe she was yearning for conversation about more than ice fishing or carburetors or whatever game had been on television the night before. She’d been steadily working her way through the shelves of the Lake Placid library, and most of the guys she dated probably hadn’t cracked a book since high school. And while Tobin may have been playing the role of good old boy, there was a lot going on behind that sleepy-lidded look.

But it didn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Tobin Winslow likely wouldn’t be leading Jessamyn down a path to anything new and improved. Falling for him meant giving up a big chunk of herself—although maybe that would have happened no matter who she fell for. Maybe she didn’t know how to love without giving up herself. I’d figured that Jessamyn’s flippant manner, hard drinking, and serial dating had been the veneer she’d adopted to cope with things life had thrown at her, things I could only guess at. But it had worked, in its way. Sure, she dated guys who were completely unaware of her intellect and she hadn’t been able to settle down, but that happens to a lot of us. She had a life she could handle and at least pretend to be happy.

But Tobin had changed all that. Around him she dropped her sardonic edge and became close to meek. It didn’t seem a change for the better. I didn’t expect it was going to end well—I couldn’t see Tobin settling down here, or whisking Jessamyn off to the bosom of his family, wherever they might be.

Tobin would periodically disappear for a week or two—no one knew where—and while he was gone Jessamyn would show glimmers of her old self. But once he came back she’d take right back up with him again as if he’d never left, an Adirondack version of a Stepford wife.

And the face beneath the ice was his.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 10 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2013

    Interesting & complex mystery with real life characters

    Writer delves into a mysterious death and reveals fascinating characters and families in an adirondack town. The people and their emotions ring true in this well-written novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2014

    Love

    Such a good read! Love the writing and mystery

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  • Posted December 16, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I¿ve always liked mysteries involving journalists because they¿r

    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.

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  • Posted October 21, 2013

    Sanarac Lake in the Adirondacks is a place where snow and ice ac

    Sanarac Lake in the Adirondacks is a place where snow and ice accommodate many winter sports, and tourists who just want a fun winter retreat.  It's a place so cold that cars drive over frozen lakes in the winter, and tears freeze on you face before they can fall off.  Troy Chance is a freelance journalist who lives in her home with numerous roommates who do their own thing, and that suits her just fine! 




    Troy is sent to cover the set up of the Winter Carnival, where an Ice Palace is being built from carved out slabs of ice from the lake.  As she's snapping pictures, see finds herself looking into the frozen face of, Tobin, one of her roommate's boyfriends.  Did he die by accident, suicide, or murder?  The local newspaper editor wants Troy to write a series of articles on Tobin's life.  Troy had not liked Tobin before his death, and she wasn't exactly sure how she felt about him as she learned about his childhood, family, and recent friends.  But for sure, she learned a great deal about traumas, kindnesses, and more about this run away playboy than she could have imagined. 




    Not being overly fond of media reporting in general, I found this book fascinating as much for the journalistic investigating and reports, as I did for the mystery.  Both good and bad sides of reporting facts and interpretations of facts really developed the mystery for me.  I especially appreciated Troy's take on her decision making---"Sometimes letting the truth out let's people heal, and sometimes it makes things worse. And you couldn't really know which, until you did it, and sometimes only later."




    This is Troy's second adventure.  Though not necessary to read the first before this one, there are references to LEARNING TO SWIM in this book that would be spoilers if you choose to read the first book later----and the first book was an excellent multi-award winner that I would highly recommend reading first.  Sara Henry captures character and atmosphere excellently.  Even in my warm house, I felt frosted while reading these books.  I was also surprised to find myself in some of the same dilemmas as Troy in deciding how I might report a situation.  Definitely more than just your average mystery!

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  • Posted July 3, 2013

    Highly recommended - suspenseful to the end.

    Good development of characters. Nice continuation of characters. Could be true - characters are human.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2013

    If you are in a waiting room, this is good 'cause you can put it down when you are called.

    This was a good book. It just didn't make me want to keep reading on and on. Had an interesting plot. Just sometimes rambling. Good way to spend and hour.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted May 17, 2014

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    Posted June 22, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted August 5, 2013

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