Fade to White

Fade to White

2.5 6
by Wendy Clinch

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Heavy snow is falling on Spruce Peak when Stacey Curtis returns in her second skiing mystery. Hollywood has-been Harper Stone arrives in Stacey’s little Vermont town to shoot a mouthwash commercial, and he’s far from happy about it. When the actor turns up dead—and the last person to see him alive is Brian Russell, Stacey’s jealous ex-fianc&


Heavy snow is falling on Spruce Peak when Stacey Curtis returns in her second skiing mystery. Hollywood has-been Harper Stone arrives in Stacey’s little Vermont town to shoot a mouthwash commercial, and he’s far from happy about it. When the actor turns up dead—and the last person to see him alive is Brian Russell, Stacey’s jealous ex-fiancé—Stacey can’t help but become involved.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
Clinch's enchanting second Ski Diva mystery (after 2010's Double Black) opens on a crispy day under a cloudless blue sky, a winter rarity in Vermont. Avid skier Stacey Curtis plans to take full advantage of it by spending the day on the slopes of Spruce Peak before she reports for her night job in the Broken Binding, a local bar. Unfortunately, the lift line is closed due to the filming of a commercial, and to complicate matters, her ex-fiancé, Brian Russell, is supervising the shoot. Later, when a snowstorm makes conditions on the slopes perfect, ski patrol friend Chip Walsh joins Stacey for some spectacular night skiing--spectacular at least until she hits something that turns out to be a dead body. Stacey once again turns sleuth in a fast read sure to appeal to skiers and nonskiers alike. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews - Kirkus Reviews

A skier's big-city ex-boyfriend forces her into another mystery when all she wants to do is catch fresh powder.

When fading actor Harper Stone comes to the Vermont mountains to tackle his latest project, a mouthwash commercial, he brings with him a bunch of industry wannabes. The hangers-on include Stacey Curtis's former fiancé, Brian Russell, who's trying to worm his way back into her life. Although things aren't steady with her ski buddy/maybe boyfriend Chip, the last thing Stacey wants to do is get dragged into Brian's life again. This is harder than Stacey thinks it should be. It's easy enough to ignore Brian when he's talking Hollywood with his pals as Stacey tends bar at the Broken Binding, but it's impossible to ignore him when he becomes the last person who saw Harper Stone alive after Stacey finds the corpse buried in the snow. Now Stacey's got the inside scoop, especially because she's still renting a room at the sheriff's house. Does Stacey want to help her ex by digging around to find the truth, or would she rather leave him hung out to dry as she skis off into the sunset? A subplot about a possible drug-smuggling ring and a confusing twist will leave readers guessing which turns the trail will take.

A bunny slope with less suspense but more surprises than Double Black (2010).

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt



Harper Stone was a whole lot smaller than he looked in the movies, but his ego made up for it. He was a whole lot older, too, but then again he’d made his best pictures a long while back. His trademark combination of lounge-lizard panache and offhand gunplay had gone pretty well out of fashion, or else he wouldn’t have been freezing his butt on this chairlift, praying for snow, showing off his famous square white teeth for a pickup camera crew out of Albany. Slumming on a Vermont ski slope in a lousy mouthwash commercial.

*   *   *

What a morning!

The sky was lake blue and well deep, without a cloud anywhere. New England didn’t get these gorgeous bluebird days very often, and Stacey Curtis didn’t want to waste a second of it. She didn’t even stop at Judge Roy Beans for coffee, but went straight to the mountain to make sure she got on the very first chair.

A hand-lettered sign in the base lodge threw a monkey wrench into things, though. The sign said that the Northside chair, the one that accessed the very best trails at Spruce Peak, was closed until further notice. Just that. No explanation. It wasn’t a short-term wind hold, that was for sure. Not with this glorious, calm, blue weather. So she figured it must be something mechanical. She shook her head and told herself that if Richie Paxton would take better care of the place these things wouldn’t happen. With his wife locked up for murdering his brother, however, Richie was too busy chasing every woman in town to take care of the mountain his family owned. So much for preventive maintenance.

There was an upside, though. If nobody could ride the Northside chair, that meant nobody could ski the Northside—except whatever hardy souls felt like trekking a half-mile through the woods from the top of the main lift. A group that Stacey figured would probably include nobody but herself.

She booted up, stashed her bag under a table, and headed out the door. She’d left her skis over by the lift so as not to have to walk forever in her boots, and as she clomped toward them she lifted her goggles, threw her head back, and took in that bright cloudless sky. Yep: It was the color of a bluebird all right—if they had bluebirds around here, which she didn’t know. Underneath that sky she felt small and happy and dizzy and just a little bit cold, but she knew she’d warm up once she got to the top of the lift and began skating through the woods and along the fire trails over to the Northside.

She caught the first chair and kept an eye out for Chip Walsh as she rode up. Still, she saw only one red Ski Patrol jacket, and that was on a boarder. Not one of the younger guys, by the look of him, but some older dude who’d probably shifted from skiing to riding later in life. Good for him. She caught sight of him at the top of the Blowdown glades, slipping under the rope to check out the run before they let in the paying customers. Now that right there, Stacey told herself, is the only reason in the whole world to be on the Patrol. All the first-aid drills and all the practice with the rescue toboggans and all the other nonsense that Chip complained about—including the reckless, smart-ass college kids up from Connecticut, only five or six years younger than Stacey and Chip themselves but a world apart—all of that might just be worth the chance to put down first tracks anywhere you wanted. And call it work.

She slid off the lift, put her mittens through the straps on her poles, and took off into the woods. She was puffing pretty hard before she’d made it halfway to the Northside, but it was all good. She had let Chip buy her dinner last night at Maison Maurice, the nicest place in town—or at least the one with the highest aspirations—and she figured that this was as good a way as any to work off a dessert that she hadn’t entirely needed. She emerged from the tree line into an open slope and skidded down below the stopped lift to catch her breath for a minute. The sky looked even bluer up here, where there was nothing but white snow and green trees for contrast. An absolutely perfect day, no question about it. Until she got about halfway down, and discovered why the lift was stopped.

*   *   *

It was bad enough that all these people were shooting some kind of video on a run she’d claimed as her own personal territory, right in the middle of the most brilliant morning on record. It was worse that that horrible Richie Paxton was glad-handing around the periphery of the crowd with that redheaded girlfriend of his, acting like he owned the place when the better part of it still belonged to his father. It was worse yet that they had all kinds of lights and reflectors and God knew what else set up on poles and standards and booms as if this glorious morning needed any help. And it was even worse that some old gray-haired guy in a long black leather coat far too urban for this Vermont morning was stalking around hollering at everybody through a bullhorn like some kind of Hollywood big shot.

Stacey could have tolerated all that. She could have waved at the crowd and skied right on by, found her way down to the bottom of the main lift, and kept doing it all morning long if not for one thing—a thing that happened to be wearing a garish yellow Columbia shell with black patches on the shoulders, topped by a long fleece hat with multicolored dinosaur spikes running the length of its spine. The kind of ski gear that went out of fashion with disco, but that certain individuals might still consider cool in a kind of retro way. The way that young men at exclusive golf clubs still wore the madras jackets and grass-green pants favored by the older crowd, either mocking them or fitting right in with them or more likely not knowing exactly which attitude they meant to adopt. Usually whichever one did them the most good at the time. That kind of young men.

Brian Russell’s kind.

Brian, her ex-fiancé.

Brian, who’d cheated on her back in Boston.

Brian, right here on her own personal ski slope, wearing that barf-yellow coat and that stupid dinosaur hat as though they were billboards advertising his crappy judgment.

He’d worn the same stuff on the four or five days she’d gotten him on a mountain, before their relationship had fallen apart. She didn’t know where he’d gotten it. In his world, a garish yellow coat and a hat that made you look like Barney were probably the sort of thing you inherited from Father. Things you kept in mothballs in a trunk somewhere, along with the silver and the stock certificates and the keys to the Bentley.

Just the sight of him spoiled her rhythm. It was as if she had been skiing with some kind of smooth and swoopy music playing in her head—an old Beach Boys song, maybe, or something cool and swinging like Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett—and the station had suddenly been switched not just to music she didn’t like but to something much worse. Rush Limbaugh. Howard Stern. Or maybe an all-news station, just in time for a forecast of some very bad weather.


Copyright © 2010 by Wendy Clinch

Meet the Author

WENDY CLINCH founded and runs www.TheSkiDiva.com, the Internet’s leading destination for women who ski.

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Fade to White 2.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You know, I mostly read pretty intellectual stuff--biography, history, Dostoyevsky, Zola and Balzac.  I am well versed in many subjects and can intellectually spar with the best.  That being said, I really enjoy Wendy Clinch's Ski Diva Mysteries because they are for me an escape, like skiing, in a world where we all tend to take ourselves way too seriously.  So, within the confines of these expectations, I loved both Double Black and Fade to White and eagerly look forward to Stacey Curtis's next escapade in Spruce Peak, VT.  I think that Ms. Clinch will improve as a writer and continue to hone her craft.  I'm in no hurry and until then I will continue to read and enjoy her books.  I don't expect War and Peace.  I expect fun and a respite from the harsh realities of summer.  What avid skier out there can't relate to that?  So, lighten up people.  If you are so above the ski mystery genre, well, then read Thomas Mann or something, and go review his books.    
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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harstan More than 1 year ago
Hollywood Harper Stone arrives at Spruce Peak, Vermont to film a mouthwash commercial. Once a star, this is the only gig he can get though he does not hide his rage over how far his fame has fallen. Avid skier Stacey Curtis looks forward to a turn on the slopes before going to work at the Broken Binding bar. However, the lift is closed due to the filming directed by Stacey's former boyfriend Brian Russell. Still the Ski Diva and her friend ski patrol operative Chip Walsh ski together until they run into a corpse. Someone murdered Harper with the last person to see the actor alive being Brian, who is known for his jealousy and anger. Stacey knows to stay out of the homicide on the slopes, but investigates anyway The second Ski Diva amateur sleuth (see Double Black) is an engaging tale that focuses more on skiing than on the whodunit. Stacey is a wonderful protagonist whose theme is Let it snow; let It snow; and let it snow. Although the mystery takes the backseat on the lift, fans will enjoy going downhill with Stacey who brings enthusiasm and energy to the slopes. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
kayjay97 More than 1 year ago
After ready the first Ski Diva book I looked forward to this one. Right now I skimmed thru 3/4 of it as it was all narrative drivel. May to much narrative about the snow, about the mountains, what kind of snow, how much snow, how she always wanted to be the first on the seat, how she loved to ski, yada, yada. I am almost done with the book and as of yet she has done no real detecting and wondering if I can actually get to the end of the book. I have no doubts I can turn to the last chapter and see who did it without missing anything in between