Share This Page

Henry traverses 'A Cold and Lonely Place'

| Saturday, May 4, 2013, 5:57 p.m.

Most of us thrive on human contact — spouses, friends, family. But for others who have been wounded by the people they love most, isolation in a cold and lonely place may seem like paradise.

That sense of severing all previous ties and never truly getting close to people permeate Sara J. Henry's insightful second novel. As she did in her 2012 Agatha-winning debut, “Learning to Swim,” Henry explores the complicated nature of relationships while delivering a suspenseful novel full of unpredictable twists.

Freelance writer Troy Chance is photographing ice cutters on New York's Saranac Lake as they prepare the ice palace that will grace the annual Winter Carnival near Lake Placid. But the work stops when the body of a man is found just below the ice's surface. And Troy knows the man — he is Tobin Winslow, the on-again, off-again boyfriend of her roommate, Jessamyn Field.

Troy didn't especially like Tobin, finding his frequent absences, lack of a job and “diffident manner” irksome. His attitude gave Troy the impression that he was a rich kid playing at the blue-collar life in the Adirondacks. Troy learns she was right when Tobin's likable sister, Win, comes to the area to settle his affairs.

Was Tobin's death a tragic accident, or was he killed? Working on a major feature story about his life, Troy grows to understand Tobin, why he was estranged from his wealthy parents and what drove him to the remote village. “It's a cold and lonely place — but it suits me,” Tobin wrote in a note that Troy finds incredibly sad.

“A Cold and Lonely Place” moves with the sharpness of those ice-cutting machines that quickly saw through the frozen lake. The appealing Troy emerges as a three-dimensional character who can empathize with the family woes of Tobin and of Jessamyn, since she has her own issues. Henry also includes an intriguing look at a thriving small-town newspaper and journalism ethics and why Troy loves being a reporter. “... losing my connection to this paper would be like being shunned from the first place I felt I belonged,” she says.

The frigid air and near-freezing temperatures that permeate “A Cold and Lonely Place” are used so well by Henry that readers may find themselves reaching for a sweater as the story heats up to its finale.

Oline H. Cogdill is a staff writer for the Sun Sentinel.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.