Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Deep Winter - Samuel W. Gailey


Deep Winter
Samuel W. Gailey
Plume
 
Thriller
 
Everyone in town knows Danny.  The owner of the laundromat gave him a job as a janitor/caretaker, complete with a room upstairs.  Danny may be slow, but he’s honest and scrupulous about his work.  After a near-drowning left him with brain damage, habit is his friend.  His only other real friend in town is Mindy.  He’s known her since they were children.  She was the only one who would sit with him at lunch; the only one who didn’t taunt and tease him.  Today is Mindy’s birthday.  Danny knows that because it’s his birthday, too.  Despite the frigid temperatures and the blizzard blowing in, Danny walks several miles to Mindy’s home to deliver her birthday present.

When he arrives, Mike Sokowski, the deputy sheriff is there with his eternal hanger-on, Carl.  Mike tells Danny to stay there while he goes for help.  When the sheriff arrives, it’s to find Danny, weeping, holding Mindy’s body in his arms.  It’s not a big stretch to assume that Danny had some unrequited love for Mindy, got rejected, and snapped.  Danny knows Mindy is dead.  And he knows that he’s going to be blamed for it.  He’s terrified, and escapes custody, running into the woods, with no clear goal in mind.  As the snow piles up and the temperatures drop ever lower, the search begins.

It’s hard to believe that this is a first novel.  Each chapter is told from a different character’s point of view.  The voices of each character are so clear and defined that this is never confusing.  The story takes place over roughly twenty-four hours.  In that one day, we learn about each participant; their pasts, their long-hidden hopes and fears, their true selves.  All of this happens within the construct of what is, essentially a chase novel.  It can be read on either level: as character studies, or as a fast-paced action novel.  That’s hard to get right, but this author makes it look easy.  Set aside some time before you start this one, because you won’t want to stop reading.  I’m really looking forward to the author’s future work.
 
 
Rating: 8
March 2015
ISBN# 978-0-14-218178-2 (trade paperback)

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