Cold in Earth

Overview

Zoe is a mother, a television celebrity and a powerful career woman. Hers is a story that millions can only dream of. But when her baby dies, her guilt and grief plunge her into an inner landscape of dream and nightmare where the familiar becomes horrible, the unthinkable real. Her family find themselves powerless to help her as, one by one, they are drawn into a labyrinth at whose centre lies an unimaginable truth. "Cold In Earth" is a stark, poetic and utterly terrifying first...

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Overview

Zoe is a mother, a television celebrity and a powerful career woman. Hers is a story that millions can only dream of. But when her baby dies, her guilt and grief plunge her into an inner landscape of dream and nightmare where the familiar becomes horrible, the unthinkable real. Her family find themselves powerless to help her as, one by one, they are drawn into a labyrinth at whose centre lies an unimaginable truth. "Cold In Earth" is a stark, poetic and utterly terrifying first novel.

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Editorial Reviews

Sunday Telegraph
A quietly chilling account of the destruction of a family. Not until the final pages do we discover the identity of the person who has manipulated all the others and killed in the process. It's a difficult technique to employ successfully, but Melissa Jones has brought it off with deceptive ease.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The sudden death of an infant shatters a London family's sense of well-being in Jones's highly stylized crime novel. Told in alternating points of view, the account begins with the diary of the child's mother, 44-year-old Zoe, a TV talk-show host, who is reeling from the crib death of her baby, Beth. (Zoe and her husband, Michael, already have two boys entering adolescence.) The mood darkens when Zoe meets with former show guest and New Age psychiatrist Lillian Taylor, who bewitches Zoe and is depicted as either a savior or the devil. What begins as a psychological novel about the strains of family life suddenly changes gears as Michael, writing from jail after having been accused of killing Zoe, tells his side of the story. He must prove, through his lawyer and brother-in-law, Felix, that "our family is innocent of everything except the fact that evil made itself manifest in our midst and that we were powerless to withstand it." Jones shows more interest in clues than insight, especially in the next section, written by Felix, the husband of Zoe's sister, Laura. His investigations implicate many characters and are meant to let the audience play along. When Laura becomes pregnant, the murderer's journal appears, revealing plans to strike again. But Michael guesses who it is (as will most readers), and, in a sudden climax, the killer is caught red-handed. Though the pacing occasionally stumbles, this intelligent, suspenseful work offers something to both mainstream fiction audiences and mystery fans. Editor, Charles Spicer; agent, Clare Conville at A.P. Watt in London. (Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews
Cot death, they called it, when two-month-old Beth Warren died, but in this bleak, near-brilliant first novel, it soon becomes appallingly clear that they called it wrong. Near brilliant. Two-thirds brilliant. Most of it unfolds through journals' three separate ones' kept for differing reasons by embattled members of the Warren family. At the outset, we meet Zo‰ Warren, "the British Oprah," a major TV celebrity who enjoys the role and all the pleasant bits and pieces that go with it. What she's never enjoyed at all is being a mother. And then, unexpectedly, when she's 46, baby Beth arrives, triggering a maternal response she would have sworn she was incapable of. Not that Zo‰ isn't fond of her other children, Paul, 14, and Andrew, 11. It's just that Michael, her husband, a natural nurturer, is so much better at seeing to them. Beth changes everything, though, most especially changes Zo‰: brightens her, opens her, then shatters her by dying. Through diary entries, we follow Zo‰'s painful descent into virtual madness. The work here is meticulous: bleakness embraced and transmuted into drama by a writer at the top of her craft. When Michael continues the story, there's no falling off in quality. He suffers. We empathize. Through him we learn that what had seemed accidental was in fact an outrageous crime. But who committed it? That turns out to be the story's pitfall, since, as Michael acknowledges, "There is rather a shortage of suspects." In the last third of the story, the who and why are revealed. It's a process that seems overlong, simply because the who doesn't come as news and the why strains credulity. Still, on balance, a remarkably well-done first effort.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312292348
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/1998
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author

Melissa Jones was born in London where she now lives with her husband, architect Neil Spiller.

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