Silent Snow

( 9 )

Overview

Rick Beanblossom is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and the hero of THE WEATHERMAN. He is back in SILENT SNOW.

Rick has it all now. A fabulous career. A beautiful wife. And a newborn son. But on the March first anniversary of the Lindbergh kidnapping... all of that is about to change.

At the height of a savage blizzard, Beanblossom's son is stolen from his nursery—a terrifying re-creation of the abduction of the Lindbergh baby. ...

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Overview

Rick Beanblossom is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and the hero of THE WEATHERMAN. He is back in SILENT SNOW.

Rick has it all now. A fabulous career. A beautiful wife. And a newborn son. But on the March first anniversary of the Lindbergh kidnapping... all of that is about to change.

At the height of a savage blizzard, Beanblossom's son is stolen from his nursery—a terrifying re-creation of the abduction of the Lindbergh baby. To get his son back alive, Rick must bury his pain and rely on his reporter's instincts, and he must follow the kidnapper's footsteps from the present back into the past...and he must do it all through Minnesota's cold and deadly, silent snow.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Minnesota-born novelist Steve Thayer is, in the truest sense of the word, a regional writer. All of his fiction directly reflects his fascination with the idiosyncrasies of his native state: its people, its culture, its brutal extremes of climate, its violent and often corrupt history. His third novel, Silent Snow, is a bizarre and ambitious double sequel to his first two books: Saint Mudd, a gangster novel set in prohibition-era St. Paul; and The Weatherman, a contemporary account of a serial killer running amok in the Twin Cities. In Silent Snow, Thayer connects these two narratives, which are widely separated in time, by structuring his plot around a modern reenactment of one of the century's most notorious crimes: the Lindbergh kidnapping.

As Silent Snow opens, Rick Beanblossom — hero of The Weatherman and a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist whose face was literally burned away during a napalm attack in Vietnam — receives a mysterious communication consisting of two items: an obituary (written by Rick himself) for the recently deceased Anne Morrow Lindbergh; and a $20 gold certificate that is eventually identified as a part of the ransom money paid to Bruno Hauptman, who was executed in 1936 for the kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh's one-year-old son.

Rick receives these items on March 1, 1999, the sixty-seventh anniversary of the kidnapping. That same night, against the escalating backdrop of a Minnesota blizzard, Rick's own one-year-old son is abducted in a manner that virtually duplicatesthedetails of the earlier crime. Subsequent events — the arrival of two barely literate ransom notes, an abortive rendezvous in a St. Paul cemetery — also mirror the methods employed by the Lindbergh kidnapper(s). Rick — together with his frantic wife, popular local anchorwoman Andrea Labore — quickly comes to believe that the abduction of his son is directly connected to the earlier abduction; that someone involved in the events of 1932 has survived and, for undisclosed reasons, has mounted an attack on Rick Beanblossom's well-ordered, but delicately balanced, life. While police and FBI agents organize a more traditional investigation, Rick responds to the crisis by studying the pattern of past events. His researches lead him to the earlier researches of Grover Mudd — the eponymous hero of Thayer's first novel — and Rick finds himself following in the footsteps of a journalist who has been dead for more than a half century.

From this point on, the story develops along two different timelines. The earlier segment, which is set in the vividly evoked, wide-open city of St. Paul in 1932, recounts Grover Mudd's evolving obsession with a dangerous, manipulative seductress named Esther Snow, who has in her possession some of the gold certificates from the still unsolved Lindbergh kidnapping; and who, Grover believes, is deeply, perhaps centrally, connected to the planning and execution of that kidnapping. In the contemporary sections, Rick Beanblossom pursues Grover Mudd's investigation into the world of present-day St. Paul, searching for surviving traces of the enigmatic Esther Snow.

Eventually, past and present converge, and the interconnected mysteries of the Lindbergh tragedy and the Beanblossom abduction are revealed and resolved in a dramatic finale that is played out on two fronts: in a deserted, snow-filled graveyard, and in a burning cathedral where a masked, monstrous figure right out of "The Phantom of the Opera" is gradually unveiled. En route to that conclusion, Silent Snow transforms itself in unexpected ways, becoming both a crime novel — with all of the traditional satisfactions that implies — and a ghost story, a full-tilt, no-holds-barred Gothic in which the dead literally speak; the barrier between past and present proves surprisingly permeable; and the people, places, and events of 1932 come more and more to illuminate and reflect their counterparts of 1999.

Steve Thayer is a writer who takes chances, and his latest novel represents his biggest, most successful gamble to date. It is a book that fearlessly straddles a number of popular forms — mystery, historical fiction, true crime, and Gothic horror — with confidence and great narrative facility. However you choose to categorize it, Silent Snow is one of the most unusual entertainments you are likely to encounter for quite some time. It is the work of a writer who cheerfully disregards the accepted boundaries that divide the genres, and who deserves the attention of a wide variety of discriminating readers.

—Bill Sheehan

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this quirky and complex suspense novel, Thayer entangles some of the main characters from his debut thriller, The Weatherman, in a re-creation of the Lindbergh kidnapping in present-day Minnesota. While it begins with a provocative premise, the plot loses its edge in an overload of historical detail and an unconvincing conspiracy theory. The kidnapped child is Dylan Beanblossom, son of the famous, stunning ("beauty incarnate") Twin Cities news anchor (and former police officer) Andrea Labore, and star newspaper reporter Rick Beanblossom, an ex-Marine who, in a gothic flourish, wears a sky blue mask to cover a napalm-scarred face, a legacy of Vietnam. Dylan vanishes during a snowstorm on March 1, the anniversary of the Lindbergh kidnapping--the same day Rick receives a mysterious parcel purporting to hold the missing Lindbergh ransom money. Predictably, Andrea and Rick investigate on their own when many people fall under suspicion: Jasmine, the baby's troubled nanny, who comes from the inner city; Stephanie Koslowski, the FBI agent with a tainted record; Les Angelbeck, a retired city cop; Dr. Freda Wilhelm, the hulking county coroner; Katherine Howard, the grande dame who owns Rick's newspaper; and newspaper pressman Swede Bjorenson, whose wife had ties to the Lindbergh kidnapping. As suspects and subplots accumulate, Thayer inserts a long section set in the 1930s, following Minneapolis reporter Grover Mudd (protagonist of Thayer's first book, Saint Mudd) as he investigates the Lindbergh case. Mudd's excellent analysis of the crime and the beguiling possibilities he raises about its perpetrator are enticing, but just when Mudd's tale gets interesting, readers are jolted back to the present-day events. Yet Thayer manages to pull off his somewhat unwieldy narrative on several fronts. The kidnapper's identity and the links between past and present crimes are real surprises, the laconic dialogue has a true Midwestern flavor and the atmospheric details of Twin Cities weather and landscape are rendered with biting clarity. True thriller fans will probably demand more action and livelier pacing, but history buffs will be intrigued. (Aug.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An overheated thriller about the Lindbergh kidnaping spawns a copy-cat crime. To reach his desk at St. Paul's North Star Press, Rick Beanblossom has to fight his way through a typically brutal midwestern snowstorm. Beanblossom, known as the man without a face (thanks to a napalm attack in Vietnam), is the Pulitzer Prize•winning star of Minnesota journalism (The Weatherman, 1995, etc.), and the story he's soon poring over is one of his own. It's a clipping he finds in his mail, a piece on the death of Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Attached to it is an old $20 bill, a gold certificate with a particular history. Before long, Rick determines that the bill is part of the ransom paid more than 60 years ago to Bruno Richard Hauptmann, the kidnaper of the Lindbergh baby•information that terrifies Rick. Intuitively, he senses an implied threat to his own two-year-old son. And he's right. By the time he battles his way through the storm again to reach his home, the boy has been stolen. In the awful hours that follow, it becomes clear that the earlier crime is serving as a kind of ghoulish inspiration. But why? And why pick Rick's child? The FBI's answers to these questions are woefully inadequate, and so he decides to augment their investigation. Enlisted in this effort is a fellow reporter. Never mind that Grover Mudd is dead. Back in 1932, his stories evoked the sinister presence of Esther Snow, the gorgeous femme fatale he accused of being Hauptmann's accomplice. And it's Grover Mudd, who leads Rick and the reader (via flashbacks) to the bizarre revelations that crack the case. Not without its assets•vivid moments, interesting people•but the final scenes are so Grand Guignol (and far-fetched)that they sink what had a chance to be quality.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780878393244
  • Publisher: North Star Press of Saint Cloud
  • Publication date: 9/15/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 232
  • Sales rank: 817,161
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Steve Thayer is the New York Times best-selling author of Saint Mudd, Silent Snow, and The Wheat Field. He lives in Edina, Minnesota.

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Read an Excerpt



Chapter One


Rick


March comes in like a lion. Roaring. Savage. Unforgiving in its ferocity. A childish game the winter weather plays. Come the end of February the snow melts, the air warms and spring appears on the way. Then the temperature plummets with little warning, the winds pick up, and snowflakes begin to fly sideways. Hell hath no fury like a Minnesota blizzard. It was only 4 P.M. but already the sun was barely visible through the cloud base.

    The man without a face came in from the cold. He blew warm air into his bare hands, bounded up six flights of stairs and into the newsroom. He was mad. Snow. Sure as hell it was going to snow. The wind had numbed his fingers, whipped through the holes in his mask and stung his eyes. Rick Beanblossom had no business living in this frostbitten state. He read there were parts of Arizona that averaged three hundred days of sunshine a year. The average high was 82 degrees. The thought of it. And after a long, hard winter he thought about it a lot. But it was only a fantasy. His sweat glands had been destroyed in the fire. The heat would kill him.

    The newsroom was clearing out, the day shift going home, the night shift coming on. Today Rick was night shift. Andrea was home with a cold. The baby was napping. A perfect time to slip downtown and get some writing done. He mumbled a few hellos and crossed into his office, which was nothing but a big cubicle with a glass partition. No door. Still, he was one of the few people below the editors with his own office. At the North Star Press Rick Beanblossomwas a star. Features only, just two or three stories a month. Always front page, usually above the fold. For this he was paid handsomely and nobody in the newsroom begrudged him his salary or his perks. They knew the masked newsman could very well be writing for the evil paper across the river. That was the great thing about working in the Twin Cities. If they didn't appreciate your talents in St. Paul, you could always shop them in Minneapolis.

    Rick Beanblossom took off his navy flight jacket and tossed it in a chair. He stole a peek out the sixth-floor window. It even looked cold. The first snowflakes sailed up Cedar Street. The advance team. Getting home was going to be a real bitch. He probably should have driven, but one of the advantages of living on Summit Avenue was being able to walk to work. Twenty minutes. Fifteen if he hustled. Besides the exercise and the fresh air the walk afforded him, people on the street got used to seeing a man with a sky-blue mask pulled completely over his head. It was the kind of mask worn by a comic book hero, only this mask had a black leather triangle for a nose. A nose that lived and breathed the news. The mask was as much to protect him from infection as it was to hide a face made hideous by fire. He was a burn victim. This was how he would go through life. No graying temples. No crow's-feet. No receding hairline. He'd just slip out every year and buy a new mask.

    Rick Beanblossom no longer kept track of his age. He was forty-something. He knew only that he had now lived longer without a face than he had with one. A great athlete in high school, an All-American boy, he was still in pretty good shape considering that after high school he'd been given three torturous tours of Dante's inferno. He slid behind his desk and gathered his mail, most of it junk.

    Hung prominently on the wall behind his desk was a gold-framed propaganda poster from World War I. Painted in 1917 by artist Charles Dana Gibson, the poster depicted a khaki-clad doughboy in skin-tight puttees and a broad-rimmed helmet standing in a field of wheat with his bayoneted rifle poised to smash the Hindenburg Line. In bold letters the caption read, JOIN THE MARINE CORPS. Rick Beanblossom had paid five hundred dollars for the rare poster at an art gallery in the warehouse district. Something about the corny patriotism struck a chord deep inside of him. Esprit de corps.

    Compared to other reporters Rick's desk was tidy. Almost Spartan. Tucked under a sheet of tempered glass was a handwritten note from Mrs. Howard welcoming him to the North Star Press. Atop the glass was a picture of his beautiful wife. A picture of their baby boy. A crystal vase stemmed with fresh flowers. A remote control.

    The television set was atop a file cabinet in the corner. Despite numerous awards for journalism, Rick Beanblossom was probably best known as the most famous husband in Minnesota. He was married to Channel 7 anchorwoman Andrea Labore. Sky High News. Number one in the ratings at six and ten. She had the most recognized face in the land of ten thousand lakes. Beauty incarnate. Local columnists went from calling her Princess Andrea to calling her Queen Andrea. Every night thousands and thousands of men in the seven-county metropolitan area went to bed at 10:30 and jacked off with Rick's wife in mind. When she got pregnant the show's ratings went through the Sky High News roof. When the baby was born congratulatory mail poured in from as far away as Iowa, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Michigan's Upper Peninsula where they picked up her broadcasts on satellite. Then the TV cameras showed up at the hospital for the requisite photo op of Andrea in bed holding the baby, which later that night was dutifully broadcast across the Midwest, and to all ships at sea.

    Forget that her husband had been awarded the Navy Cross for the lives he saved in Vietnam, not to mention the face he lost. Forget that as a young newspaper reporter in Minneapolis he won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. Or that as a television news producer at his wife's own station he earned a Columbia/Dupont Award for his story on a missing child. Oh yeah, he also had a novel published. Good reviews. Modest sales. He was at work on another. But forget it all. He was the husband of Andrea Labore. The father of her golden child.

    "Isn't she married to that burn victim guy?"

    This was hero worship in the 1990s. If Rick didn't love Andrea so much he'd resent the hell out of her. Still, if the general public showed him little respect, his wife and his peers showed him plenty.

    Rick was still sorting through his mail when a gust of March wind rattled his office window. Startled him. He shot a glance that way. It was getting dark. More snowflakes. Dancing now. Then his eyes fell on a letter-size envelope addressed to him in handwriting that more resembled a scribble, one of those ominous dispatches that gives off bad vibes before it's even read. He yanked open his top drawer and lifted out a switchblade, illegal in all fifty states. Rick popped the blade. The razor sharp chromium shone like white fire even on a bitter, gray day. The Marine stabbed the envelope and slit it open. One clean cut.

    It was not uncommon for readers to send Rick Beanblossom his own news articles with a note telling him to eat it. At first glance that appeared to be the case. But there was no note with this article, just an old twenty-dollar bill that bore a round yellow seal. Rick read the story.


ST. PAUL NORTH STAR PRESS


ANNE MORROW LINDBERGH DIES
Rick Beanblossom staff writer


Anne Morrow Lindbergh, author, aviatrix, loving wife and mother died today at a convalescent home in Darien, Connecticut. She was 93. Mrs. Lindbergh had been in failing health for several years. One of her last public appearances was here in St. Paul in 1985 when she attended the dedication ceremony on the capitol grounds of the Paul Granlund sculpture of her famous aviator husband, Minnesota's own Charles A. Lindbergh.
When the history of the twentieth century is written Anne Morrow Lindbergh will undoubtedly be listed among the great women. Sadly, at her passing she may be best remembered for the kidnapping and murder of her first son, Charles Lindbergh Jr., stolen from his nursery at their country estate in New Jersey in 1932. Her death comes only a week before the March 1 anniversary of the kidnapping ...


    The story was a week old. It had come across the wire shortly before deadline, a simple obituary piece the newsman cranked out before he went home that night. Most of the background info was culled from the AP story. Next day another reporter was assigned to write a feature piece on the life and times of the woman who had married Charles Augustus Lindbergh. Rick Beanblossom had to confess he knew little about the Lindberghs—other than the fact that young Charles, from Little Falls, Minnesota, had flown solo across the Atlantic in The Spirit of St. Louis in 1927. And that several years later the national hero known as the Lone Eagle and his wife Anne Morrow had their firstborn son kidnapped and murdered. It was one of the most sensational news stories in American history. Crime of the century and all that stuff. A German carpenter named Bruno fried for it.

    Again he searched the envelope for a note. There was nothing. But the twenty-dollar bill was an interesting touch. Rick sat at his desk. He stashed the switchblade and pulled out a magnifying glass. He magnified Andrew Jackson's face, then the writing below. "IN GOLD COIN PAYABLE TO THE BEARER ON DEMAND." It was a gold certificate. A collector's item. "SERIES OF 1928." Rick put the gold note to his nose. It had a musty smell to it, wet, earthy. What to think? He reluctantly put the twenty aside and opened the rest of his mail.

    For years Rick Beanblossom lived alone in a high-rise condominium overlooking Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis. At times it seemed more of a cave dwelling in which he was hiding. Andrea Labore lured him out of his cave and out of his shell. Marriage took them back to Rick's hometown of Stillwater, Minnesota, once a sleepy river town, now a trendy suburb. Then came Andrea's new multimillion-dollar contract. She said the long commute from Stillwater to the newsroom atop the IDS Tower in downtown Minneapolis was killing her.

    After the baby was born, legendary publisher Katherine Howard personally offered Rick a job with the North Star Press in downtown St. Paul. Going stir-crazy at home as a writer and a house-husband, Rick accepted the offer. But he wanted to stay planted in Stillwater. Andrea wanted to move back to Minneapolis. They compromised.

    Rick Beanblossom and Andrea Labore with their newborn child settled into a Romanesque-style mansion on St. Paul's historic Summit Avenue—a street F. Scott Fitzgerald once described as "A museum of American architectural failures." The Beanblossom "failure" was built of red sandstone in 1887, three-stories tall with a peaked tile roof over a skylighted attic. The back porch served up an incredible view of the Mississippi River. The front windows offered up Cathedral Hill. Carved stonework of classic nudes topped a dramatic entrance arch. Rick thought the Victorian mansion was so tacky it was cool. Neighbors swore the old place was haunted. That sealed the deal. His own ghost. The family fortress. Lord of the manor. Andrea was twenty minutes from her job—the lord could walk to his.

    The wind increased to a howl. Daylight fading fast. Rick was watching the worsening weather outside his climate-controlled office when Andrea called. She was feeling better. Little Dylan was fed. Andrea was bouncing him on her knee. The housekeeper was home with them.

    "How are you getting home?"

    "I'll get a ride. Don't worry about me."

    "I love you."

    That call was at 5:45 P.M. Rick set his work aside. He sat at his desk staring out the window. Easiest thing in the world. More snow. More wind. More winter. He picked up the mysterious twenty-dollar bill. Seemed the worse the weather got the more suspicious the bill became. He scanned the article again.


Her death comes only a week before the March 1 anniversary of the kidnapping ...


    Rick checked the day calendar on his desk. Monday. March 1. He looked at the gold note in his hand. Again at the article. The wind kept rattling the window. Rattling his nerves. A chill crawled up his spine. He shook it off. The incurable newsman stared long and hard at his telephone.

    The old man would be at home. He was near retirement. Christ, he was near death. Emphysema. Kept threatening to move to California and live with his daughter. But as long as the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the state police in Minnesota, provided the old man with an office and a telephone he would be forever a cop, forever searching for one last case. Rick hated to bother him. He expected to be writing his obituary soon.

    By this time it was dark outside. In the morning the paper would read, OFFICIAL SUNSET: 6:01 P.M. Rick Beanblossom hit the remote on his desk. The television set popped on. Channel 7. Schlocky music was playing over videotape of his wife smiling into the camera. The news began with the announcement that Andrea Labore was home sick. Katherine Thompson-Jones, known in the Sky High newsroom as Katie Tom-Jon, was filling in. Her coanchor tonight was the regular guy, Stan Butts, known in the same newsroom as the "butthole from Cleveland," a.k.a. "Frankenanchor." It was a lovely business. The lead story was a blizzard warning. The Twin Cities were sitting on the eastern edge of a massive storm system.

    Rick clicked the sound down to a whisper on his former employers and reached for the telephone. He punched in a number he knew by heart.

    "What have you done for me lately?"

    "That's my line. How goes the battle?"

    "Feels good to be working for a newspaper again."

    "I knew you'd be back. You've got newsprint for blood."

    "So they tell me. Watching the news?"

    "You bet. Where's Andrea?"

    "Home with a cold."

    "So what do you want? ... the weather's on."

    "Aren't you a coin collector or something?"

    "Coins and stamps."

    "I've got an old bill sitting on my desk here. I'm wondering its value."

    "Coins and stamps, Masked Man."

    "Well, you must know something about bills."

    "Shoot."

    "Twenty-dollar gold certificate. Series 1928. Slightly worn. Fair condition."

    "Roosevelt recalled them in 1933 when we went off the gold standard, but a lot of people hoarded them as a hedge against inflation. It was the Depression, you know. Not being in mint condition, it can't be worth a whole lot."

    The old boy sounded pretty damn good. Much better than Rick had expected. The hard-to-retire cop wouldn't be the first two-pack-a-day smoker to cheat the Grim Reaper. Rick Beanblossom took a deep breath and tried to sound nonchalant. "Could you run a check on the serial number for me?"

    It didn't work. There was an icy silence on the far end of the line, a dramatic pause Rick had come to know well. He could hear the sound on the old man's television set go dead. "I'd have to run that through FBI computers."

    Now it was Rick's turn to dish out the silence, a game they had played often over the years—played it with crooked politicians, with local yokel mobsters, and with a serial killer known as the Weatherman. After allowing for the seriousness of the request to sink in, Rick Beanblossom chose his words carefully.

    "And could this routine check of serial numbers be done without setting off alarms at the FBI building?"

    A sharp smoker's cough could be heard at the other end of the phone. His death rattle. "I might choose to do it that way. Worth the risk?"

    "Yeah, worth the risk."

    "Give it to me."


Rick Beanblossom's story has been told before, but it deserves mentioning here again how he came to meet the old man who would become his mentor, the cop who would become his unimpeachable source for both information and inspiration. It was during the recovery years, after Vietnam but before the thought of being a journalist crept into his head. He seldom ventured out back then, mostly down to the burn center at Ramsey Medical. The ugly incident took place at a park on St. Paul's East Side, up the bluff from the hospital. It was a glorious, spring day. The view over the capitol city was incredible. The Mississippi River was raging with snow melt, near flood stage. A warm breeze told him winter was over. No more snow. Rick stood on a retaining wall, hands in pockets, forgetting for the moment there was anything different about him. He was as caught up in the optimism of spring as anybody that day.

    They came up behind him. The two cops shouted not to move and he almost fell off the wall. He was ordered to put his hands in the air. He still stuttered back then and this war wound rendered him speechless. They ordered him down from the wall and up against it. "Feet spread!" He mumbled and stammered but the words would not come. Their questions went unanswered. He clung, shaking, to his new mask. Despite his uncommon valor in war he was now treated like a cruelly deformed puppy. The cops handcuffed him and led him to the squad car.

    At the booking center they pulled the mask from his head. He avoided their eyes. They gasped in horror. He tried to bury his head between his knees. He was three hours in the county jail before they figured out they had a war hero in custody, not a burglary suspect. An aging detective with a nasty smoker's cough came into his cell. Offered him a cigarette. Apologized profusely. Gave him a ride home.


Three hours of writing later his phone was ringing. He hoped it was some answers about the mysterious twenty-dollar bill. Rick checked the clock: 8:45 P.M. Now it was snowing hard. Long white spirals. He stored his work on the computer and picked up the phone.

    "Beanblossom."

    "Have you found a ride home yet?"

< He grabbed hold of the picture of Andrea on his desk. A rare smile broke across his blue mask. "Haven't asked. How's the baby?"

"I worry about him catching my cold. I put him to bed about an hour ago ... fell right to sleep. You know he's over a year old. Soon we won't be able to call him our baby anymore."

    "No. He'll be our little boy."

    "So when are you going to find that ride home? The weather is getting pretty bad."

    "People don't start heading out until ten or eleven."

    "I know, but it wouldn't hurt you to ... just a minute ..."

    "What's that, hon?"

    "I thought I heard something ... a noise ... the wind is going crazy out there."

    "Yeah, down here too. Is Jasmine there?"

    "She's downstairs."

    "Good. Then get some sleep. Everything is okay."

    "First I have to call my sister ... then I'm off to sleep. I love you. Bye-bye."

    "I love you," he muttered. But she'd already hung up the phone.


When the monster stood the ladder up to the side of the house the temperature had already dropped below the freezing point. It was the peak of snowfall season. Increasing flurries moved across the yard in a northwesterly wind flow. Low visibility. Good cover. Up in the nursery at the southeast corner of the big house, the dim glimmer of a night light shone—maybe a low-watt bulb, maybe light from the hallway. Further down was the flickering glow of an incandescent light in the master bedroom. These were the only lights on the second floor. The young housekeeper would be on the first floor at the other end of the house. A light was burning in her room, as well as in the kitchen.

    The monster was huge. Grotesque. A scarecrow ballooned out of all proportion. There were cloth sacks wrapped around its boots. Black pants. Thick black arms and black leather gloves. A black down vest hung over a black coat, the collar turned up. In the flickering flames of light coming from the house one could see a gunnysack pulled over its head. The sack was tied at the neck with a rope. A pair of dark glasses, perhaps night goggles, were stuck in the middle of the mask. Served as eyes. A floppy black hat held everything together. The extension ladder was made of soft wood in hopes it would be noiseless. Up this silent ladder the monster crept, lifting one foot past the other, as a firefighter would do. On the top rung, at the nursery window, it was shielded from the nasty weather. The biting winds of March were playing eerie tunes through the trees. The icy river to its left could barely be seen as it ran beneath the bluffs. To its right was the dome of a church ablaze in lights, still visible through the irregular columns of snow. A gnarly oak tree stripped of its leaves hung over the baby's window, its dark branches and sharp, pointed fingers reaching down for the ladder like frantic arms.

    The window slid open surprisingly easily. No need for the chisel. The monster entered the house, set its left knee upon the windowsill and carefully and quietly maneuvered through. Once inside the monster paused a moment, allowing its glasses and its eyes to adjust to the subtle shades of darkness. Evil framed in frosted glass. The nursery door was three-quarters open. The light seen from below was spilling in from the hallway. A muffled voice could be heard not too far away. Someone on the phone. Maybe a radio was playing.

    The room was hot and smelled of Vicks Vaporub. It was smaller than expected. And older. A step back in time. The ceiling was high. The open door was tall and narrow, with a glass transom. A small fireplace was bricked into the wall. The furniture was antique, carefully selected, good wood, the kind of thing a carpenter would appreciate. Taped to the wall was paper sunshine to help ward off the grim, winter days. In the corner the monster could see the crib.

    The baby was asleep, right where he was supposed to be—tucked snugly and securely into his blankets. The top blanket was white with gold lions on it. Cartoon characters. The sheets matched the blanket, as did the pillowcase. The child was lying on his back, face up. He was dressed for the night in a one-piece sleeping suit with enclosed feet and a zipper up the front. In the semidark the elfin outfit looked maroon. It was red. The monster put a gauze bandage over its victim's tiny mouth and pressed it flat beneath the nostrils to ensure the child could still breathe.

    Then in what has to be the worst crime known to woman, known to man, the baby, still fast asleep, was lifted from his crib. Snatched. Carried out the window into the freezing air, into the raw winds, into the flying snow, and dropped feetfirst into a burlap bag. The church bells beneath the dome began to chime, ringing out through the winter storm. The monster almost forgot and hurried back to the crib. As the bells were tolling the hour a note was tossed on top of the covers among the sleeping lions.

(Continues...)

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 20, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The sequel to The Weatherman, it's another decent outing from Th

    The sequel to The Weatherman, it's another decent outing from Thayer. Now married with a child, Andrea and Rick reside in a big house in St Paul when their child is abducted. Lots of references and detail to the Lindberg kidnapping in this one. It's not quite as suspenseful, but moves along faster than The Weatherman

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2008

    Meaty and real !!!

    My first Thayer book but not my last. The story moved -- more like flowed -- really well combining past and present with fact and fiction in a totally supreme way -- so OK now Steve -- write books a little faster in the future!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2004

    Best Book Ever

    This was the most exciting book. I just finished it, and I cannot sleep. I happened to buy St. Mudd, Weatherman and Silent Snow at a special price for all three. I read St. Mudd and wasn't crazy about it. Then I read the Weatherman and it was great. I couldn't wait to read Silent Snow and it was absolutely the best. I could not put it down. I was so happy I did read St. Mudd, because I grew to love the character after reading all three books. What a combination of suspense, romance, paranormal and history. I have discovered a new author and I am thrilled!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2002

    Silent Snow

    Author¿s Name: Steve Thayer Title: Silent Snow Genre: Mystery Thriller Rick Beanblossom is a famous reporter, commonly referred to as the ¿faceless man¿ because he wears a mask that covers his ugly face that was badly burned in an explosion while he fought in the Vietnam War. He and his wife, Andrea Labore, one of the most valued television reporters because of her astounding beauty and charming personality, have to come face-to-face with their most horrible nightmare; the kidnapping of their baby boy, Dylan Labore. Steve Thayer¿s ability to leave the reader stranded with loads of questions is absolutely astounding, and sometimes very frustrated. Steve Thayer starts the book with the immediate and startling suspense of Rick Beanblossom receiving a letter with an obituary he wrote in a previous newspaper issue and a gold certificate used in the ransom of the Lindbergh kidnapping. Before they know it, they are sucked into a complicated and confusing tangle of suspects and find out the horrible truth about the kidnapping. This book is very fast-paced and suspenseful and I enjoyed reading it into the nights while I was tearing from page to page getting closer and closer to the surprising and startling ending. An example of how the author leaves the reader in suspense can be found on page 40, when the author confuses the reader by trying to make them think that there are suspects that might have been involved with the kidnapping. Reading this fantastic book, I found that there were many things that related to the everyday media and news. It¿s not everyday that a couple so related to the news has their baby kidnapped, but the way the author uses the language in the book, it makes this story sound very real and could possibly be a true story. The author has obviously researched the news and media very closely before he wrote this book. For example, the lead detective had problems with solving cases, and therefore people don¿t look at her as a regular detective, they look at her as a detective that has failed to put a killer to justice, and there is much controversy over why she was put in charge, just like in everyday life. I used many strategies to help me understand this frustrating and high reading level book. Many words were extremely new to me, so I had to try and figure them out by the context. Many times, though, I had to use a dictionary to make the chapter or page make sense. I also had to write down all of my questions that I had because it was hard for me to keep track of them all. I would keep the list of questions close to me when I was reading so that I could refer to it when I answered one of my questions. Then I could cross the questions out and continue reading. I would also circle the words I could figure out by myself, but wanted to know the exact definition for later use. The book is frustrating at times because of the suspense element of the book, but I like it a lot anyway.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2001

    Great beginning/ending, but slow middle

    I have read both of his other books and they both flowed very well. Both brought you right up the hill and gave a great climax. This book was different, the beginning was great, brought you right up that hill, I was about 1/3 of the way through and could not figure out how he was going to keep the suspense for 2/3 more. Well, he did not. The middle is a throw back to St. Mudd (I did enjoy this book too, but it was like being tossed down the hill.) I was terribly disappointed in the middle part. It was entertaining but just not what I was hoping for. The last 1/3 was also v. good, almost as good as the first 1/3. It was really an excellent book, a v. quick read and was v. enjoyable, dispite the middle 1/3 of the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2001

    absorbing

    My first Steve Thayer book, I had a difficult time getting into it but once I did, I couldn't lay it down!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2000

    Read Thayer's Other Books First

    Great book, but you lose a lot if you have not read Thayer's other two books first. This book combines characters from both The Weatherman and Saint Mudd. Without the background from those two you would definitely lose some appreciation for this book. This is definitely a case where you are rewarded if you read the authors books in order.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2000

    Silent Snow is the best book I have read this year

    Steve Thayer's Silent Snow definitly is a top rate thriller. It starts out with Rick Beanblossom getting information from the Lindbergh kidnapping. He relizes to late that what is about to happen is that his kid is about to be taken from his crib. Rick doesn't put all of his faith in the police and decided to go and find the kidnappers themselves. He knows in order to go figure out the crime is that he will have to go gather up all of the information about a reporter who followed the Lindbergh kidnapping. He gets invaluble clues to help his investigation from old articles from grover Mudd, trhe old newspaper journalist. While reading this book I must have changed my mind about who did the crime artleast four times while the true villian was the person I never thought about. This books takes you to all different places including Nazi Germany.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2000

    How boring....

    I tried....but the story never got exciting and it was slow as molasses.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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