After a peaceful night’s sleep, Nora Hamilton awakens on a bitterly cold and snowy January morning in the Adirondacks to a nightmare. Her husband Brendan, a police officer in the small upstate New York town of Wedeskyull, has committed suicide. Her grief is as incessant as her determination to find out why. He’d given no indication that he was depressed about anything, so what drove him to this desperate act?
Nora’s pursuit of the truth pits her against certain townspeople she thought were her friends; introduces her to strangers who become unlikely allies (readers won’t soon forget Dugger); exposes her subtle conflicts with family members and a not-so-subtle one with her mother-in-law; puts her and others in mortal danger and, literally and symbolically, pits her against the treacherous snow that blankets the region, both concealing and revealing frigid current and decades-old brutal realities and concomitant attitudes.
The trepidations and mysteries in this suspenseful gem will have readers turning pages late into the night to find out what happens next, not least because many a chapter closes with a cliffhanger. Jenny Milchman has crafted an excellent debut novel studded with turns of phrase that add vividity without distracting from the headlong narrative thrust.
The novel is not without what some readers will perceive as flaws. There are unanswered questions about key events, some loose ends are left dangling, and the fates of some of the characters, major and minor, go unexplained. These didn’t bother me personally; not every issue in life has a definitive resolution, and not every question gets answered. I can highly recommend Cover of Snow to fans of high-tension suspense fiction, and in fact recommended it to a number of friends even before I’d finished reading it. I’m looking forward to Jenny Milchman’s next novel.
© 2014 Barry Ergang