At the start of Henry’s haunting follow-up to her Agatha-winning debut, Learning to Swim (2011), reporter Troy Chance stumbles onto what could be the story that changes her career—as well as several lives—when the ice cutters she’s photographing on New York’s Saranac Lake for a feature about the Lake Placid–area resort’s annual Winter Carnival find a man frozen under the surface. Almost as shocking, the victim is someone Troy knows—trust fund slacker Tobin Winslow, her roommate Jessamyn’s boyfriend. Which makes the waiflike Jessamyn most definitely a person of interest to police. As Troy start digging, unexpectedly joining forces with Win, Tobin’s impossible-to-dislike sister, she quickly discovers there are even more questions concerning Tobin’s life than his death. Adding considerably to the compulsively readable mystery that unfolds—marred only by an anemic romantic subplot carried over from Swim—is Henry’s bone-deep sense of this terribly beautiful place. Agent: Barney Karpfinger, the Karpfinger Agency. (Feb.)
Ice harvesters are preparing for the Winter Carnival at Saranac Lake, NY, when they find a body frozen under the surface. Freelance journalist Troy Chance, who is on the scene taking photos, recognizes the dead man as her roommate’s boyfriend, Tobin Winslow. When the death is quickly assumed to be accidental, Troy disagrees. Convinced Tobin was murdered, Troy sets about meeting with Tobin’s family and friends, hoping to find some insight into this man who turns out to be from a wealthy family. When her editor asks her to write the story of Tobin’s life, it seems like the perfect way to gain information, along with providing the break Troy needs to establish her writing career.
Verdict This disappointing sequel to Henry’s Agatha Award–winning Learning To Swim weakens as the story line progresses, with too little conflict and too many “good guys” among the characters. Lacking the suspense found in her previous novel, this may be too innocuous for most mystery fans although the book’s strong sense of place may attract some readers. [See Prepub Alert, 8/20/12.]Linda Oliver, MLIS, Colorado Springs(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Henry's second novel once again follows Troy Chance, a freelance writer and news reporter who lives in the Adirondacks and frequently stumbles upon stories that need telling and people who need saving. Troy, who lives just outside Saranac Lake, is perfectly at home with the frozen winters and snowdrifts that characterize the area she has chosen to call home. Working for a tiny local newspaper, Troy writes about local sports and rents out rooms in her house to a succession of young people, particularly athletes training for the Olympics. One roommate, Jessamyn, is a mysterious and seemingly rootless girl who spends her time with Tobin Winslow, a young Princeton dropout who comes from a wealthy family. When Tobin disappears and is later found frozen in a block of ice carved from the lake, Troy and Jessamyn decide to find out who the real Tobin was and determine what happened to him: Did he accidentally wander onto the lake, was he murdered, was it a suicide? To add to the mystery, Tobin's truck has disappeared, but he left his cabin with all of his belongings intact. When Tobin's sister, Jessica, who goes by the nickname of "Win," shows up, she and Troy start trying to piece together Tobin's last days, talking to those who knew him well and those who only thought they knew him. Henry, a former newspaper staffer, nicely sets the sense of place and creates some interesting, although fancifully named characters, drawing in the Canadian cast from her first novel and adding the residents of Saranac Lake to the mix. However, rather than weaving an intricate and interesting story, the plot just seems to meander around, yanking open random literary drawers and peering inside, like an unplanned burglary instead of a suspenseful, well-thought-out, cohesive tale. There's very little that's thrilling in this tepid, but nicely written, story of a young man haunted by the events of his past and his tragic death. The unanticipated ending will mesmerize some readers, while others will find themselves annoyed by the anticlimactic conclusion.
“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