BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Sunday, May 1, 2011

ARC Review of Dead of Wynter by Spencer Seidel

Publisher:Publishing Works

Release Date: May 1st, 2011

More info:  Amazon

Book Blurb:

Dolly, it’s your mother.” Dolly. Jackie Ruth Wynter had called Alice that for years. The conversation that followed led her right back to the place she had run from for years. Her twin brother, younger by just a minute or so, had been fading, transforming into an image of their drunken, narrow-eyed father. Now her father was dead, and her brother, Chris, missing.

Alice resigns herself to return, helping her mother and the local police with the mystery surrounding the crime. But there are some family secrets her mother would sooner take to the grave than reveal.

Reacquainting with her past brings fresh pain and new friendships as she struggles with who to trust with the details of her father’s murder and brother’s disappearance. As the authorities come closer to solving the mystery of the men in her family, she begins to realize her past life as Alice Wynter is the missing part of the puzzle. But who is searching out the former Alice? The sinister mysteries of the Wynter family will capture the reader’s attention well past when the fire has gone out.

My Thoughts:

"Dead of Wynter" is not your typical mystery. There is a mystery, the death of Papa Wynter, but the story is as much about Dolly/Alice's relationships with her family, her brother Chris's high school years, and the secrets we keep and their consequences. Seidel delves into the psychology of the characters and examines their flaws, foibles and morals. The death of Papa Wynter, and Chris Wynter's disappearance, serve as the catalyst for the events in the book.

The book shifts between the present day, told from Alice's first person perspective, detective Don Lambert's first person perspective, and the first person perspective of Michael LaPage, Alice's high school boyfriend and 1984, where we are in Chris's head. It was a little disconcerting at times, shifting so much especially but it helped that the era determined whose head we were in. Mostly, it worked pretty well. My other quibble is that I would have loved if Seidel had given us Ray's perspective, even just a few times. Ray is their cousin, his father is brother to their father. Ray has problems and drags Chris into them. The consequences of their actions reverberate down to the present day. Given Ray's importance to the story and subsequent events, I wold have liked to see his thoughts and the change in his behavior.

Seidel portrays his characters clearly, with a writing style that is spare and unsentimental but not harsh: "Chris felt at that moment that he no longer knew Vic, that the old Vic had died right there on Gartlin's porch." *Note* This quote is from the ARC, the final version may be different or may not exist at all.

The book is a mix of predictable and unpredictable. I did not see the ending, specifically who was responsible for Papa Wynter's death though I did have a guess. Seidel had twists and turns that both flowed from the story and drove the story. I can't be more specific without giving away spoilers. Other than not getting inside Ray's head, my only other quibble is Michael's role. As the former boyfriend and tempting future lover, he worked. But the role he plays towards the end of the story felt forced. Someone needed to fill it, I'm just not sure he was the best choice.

While I don't anticipate reading this again (and that's always a factor in how good I think a story is), this was a well-written, thought provoking psychological mystery.

This ARC was received from the publisher for review.

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