Cover of Snow

By Jenny Milchman

 (Ballantine, $26, 336 pages)

Who is this author?

This is the debut novel by Jenny Milchman, who lives in New Jersey and is a psychotherapist. On her website, she says she first began “writing’ at age 2, when she would dictate bedroom stories to her mother, who dutifully wrote them down. Milchman says it took her 11 years to get published, and this novel, her “first,” is actually the eighth one she has written.

What is this book about?

Set in the Adirondack mountains, it is the story of Nora, a young wife – make that widow – who awakes one cold morning to find that her husband Brendan, a police officer, has killed himself. But as she begins to come out of her grief, she cannot but notice odd things that just do not add up. Why was there no suicide note? Why did no one see this coming? Why are Brendan’s police buddies, best friend and even his mother so reluctant to pursue answers? Nora must do some investigating on her own, and what she discovers – and risks – make this an absorbing thriller.

Why you’ll like it:

Reviewers are praising this story’s intriguing twists and turns and Milchman’s understanding of grief and how it clouds the mind and hurts the heart. While this book is a thriller and follows the path of that genre, it also offers insights into the causes of suicide and its effects on those left behind, and it does a nice job of exploring the ways life in a small town can be both comforting and claustrophobic.

What others are saying:

Bookreporter says: “Milchman is one of those authors who is capable of painting a mood of foreboding within an opening sentence or two.  …Lest one think that they have stumbled into a modern-day version of “The Andy Griffith Show,” “Cover Of Snow” fires a shot across the bow within a first couple of pages with Brendan’s sudden and totally unexpected suicide. Nora is beside herself, having no idea what might have driven her husband to commit such an act when their lives seemed almost idyllic. It is only in the aftermath of Brendan’s death that Nora gradually begins to uncover her husband’s past history and realizes how little she knew about the man she thought she knew so well….”Cover Of Snow” is quite dark in tone and mood, which in turn contrasts with the backdrop of ever-present snow literally blanketing every scene. The weather is not a friend to Nora; rather, it is cold, treacherous, concealing and unrelenting. One does not think of Christmas, sleigh bells or family reunions but rather of frostbite, hazardous traveling, and chills from within and without. And of course, much can be concealed under a “cover of snow.” This is a memorable debut from an author who promises much and delivers.”

“Well-defined characters take us on an emotional roller-coaster ride through the darkest night, with blinding twists and occasionally fatal turns. This is a richly woven story that not only looks at the devastating effects of suicide but also examines life in a small town and explores the complexity of marriage. Fans of Nancy Pickard, Margaret Maron, and C. J. Box will be delighted to find this new author,” says Booklist in a starred review.

The New York Times says: “Milchman reveals an intimate knowledge of the psychology of grief, along with a painterly gift for converting frozen feelings into scenes of a forbidding winter landscape.”

“Milchman makes [readers] feel the chill right down to their bones and casts a particularly effective mood in this stylish thriller,” says Kirkus Reviews.

 When is it available?

You can uncover this book at the Downtown Hartford Public Library or its Mark Twain Branch.

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