The Last Winter of Dani Lancing, by P. D. Viner.
The snowflakes drift through her to strike the ground. They cannot touch her.
"Dani -- "
"What is wrong with me Dad?"
"Nothing Dani. There's nothing wrong with you." He tells his dead daughter.
She looks at the ground, sees his footprints alone in the snow. - from The Last Winter of Dani Lancing -
Jim Lancing spends a lot of time with his daughter Dani since her murder twenty years ago. She is a ghost that he is not willing to let go. Not yet. Patty, Dani's mother, has a different way of connecting with her daughter -- she wants revenge. The cold case eats away at Patty leaving her bitter, angry and a skeleton of who she once was -- not only has Dani's death devastated her parents, it has also separated them from each other.
Tom, Dani's former childhood sweetheart, is now a cop and he wants more than anything to solve her murder. So when it looks like the case might be re-investigated, he shares that hope with Patty. His well-meaning words, however, unleash a new series of obsessive acts on Patty's part. Will the case ever be solved? And at what cost?
P.D. Viner's debut novel is told in interwoven points of view, back and forth in time -- a technique that successfully creates tension as more facts about Dani's untimely death are revealed. A mix of supernatural thriller and literary fiction, The Last Winter of Dani Lancing is a quick read. Early on, the style drew me into the plot and made me want to solve the mystery of Dani's death.
But the novel is not without its weaknesses. At times it reads like a screenplay (not surprising given that Viner has studied film and cinematography) and for me, that gave the story a bit of a contrived feeling. Viner head-hops a lot -- giving the book an omniscient quality that didn't completely work. As the novel comes to its surprising conclusion, there are quite a few events that unfold which felt unbelievable. I ended up turning the final page and feeling a bit disappointed.
All that said, I did read the book in record time for me these days ... and the style is haunting. Viner successfully explores the destruction of a family in the wake of the death of a child, and demonstrates how family secrets can have lasting effects.
Readers who like ghost stories and family dramas may want to pick up a copy of The Last Winter of Dani Lancing.
★ ★ ★
FTC Disclosure: This book was sent to me by the publisher though the Library Thing Early Reviewer Program.
- Rating System
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = Excellent
★ ★ ★ ★ = Good/Very Good
★ ★ ★ = Okay read
★ ★ = Not recommended
★ = Ugh! Don't waste your time.
Catch all of Wendy Robard's reviews in her fabulous blog, "Caribousmom".