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Cover of Snow
Cover of Cover of Snow
Cover of Snow
A Novel
Borrow Borrow Borrow
WINNER OF THE MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD
Jenny Milchman's Cover of Snow is a remarkable debut, a gripping tale of suspense in the tradition of Gillian Flynn, Chris Bohjalian, and Nancy Pickard.


Waking up one wintry morning in her old farmhouse nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, Nora Hamilton instantly knows that something is wrong. When her fog of sleep clears, she finds her world is suddenly, irretrievably shattered: Her husband, Brendan, has committed suicide.
The first few hours following Nora's devastating discovery pass for her in a blur of numbness and disbelief. Then, a disturbing awareness slowly settles in: Brendan left no note and gave no indication that he was contemplating taking his own life. Why would a rock-solid police officer with unwavering affection for his wife, job, and quaint hometown suddenly choose to end it all? Having spent a lifetime avoiding hard truths, Nora must now start facing them.
Unraveling her late husband's final days, Nora searches for an explanation—but finds a bewildering resistance from Brendan's best friend and partner, his fellow police officers, and his brittle mother. It quickly becomes clear to Nora that she is asking questions no one wants to answer. For beneath the soft cover of snow lies a powerful conspiracy that will stop at nothing to keep its presence unknown . . . and its darkest secrets hidden.
Praise for Cover of Snow

"Well-defined characters take us on an emotional roller-coaster ride through the darkest night, with blinding twists and occasionally fatal turns. This is a richly woven story that not only looks at the devastating effects of suicide but also examines life in a small town and explores the complexity of marriage. Fans of Nancy Pickard, Margaret Maron, and C. J. Box will be delighted to find this new author."Booklist (starred review)

"Milchman reveals an intimate knowledge of the psychology of grief, along with a painterly gift for converting frozen feelings into scenes of a forbidding winter landscape."The New York Times

"Milchman makes [readers] feel the chill right down to their bones and casts a particularly effective mood in this stylish thriller."Kirkus Reviews

"Milchman tackles small-town angst where evil can simmer under the surface with a breathless energy and a feel for realistic characters."The Seattle Times

"The plot unfolds at an excellent clip . . . ultimately rushing headlong to a series of startling revelations."—San Francisco Journal of Books

"Milchman expertly conveys Nora's grief in a way that will warm hearts even in the dead of a Wedeskyull winter."Publishers Weekly (starred review)
From the Hardcover edition.
WINNER OF THE MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD
Jenny Milchman's Cover of Snow is a remarkable debut, a gripping tale of suspense in the tradition of Gillian Flynn, Chris Bohjalian, and Nancy Pickard.


Waking up one wintry morning in her old farmhouse nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, Nora Hamilton instantly knows that something is wrong. When her fog of sleep clears, she finds her world is suddenly, irretrievably shattered: Her husband, Brendan, has committed suicide.
The first few hours following Nora's devastating discovery pass for her in a blur of numbness and disbelief. Then, a disturbing awareness slowly settles in: Brendan left no note and gave no indication that he was contemplating taking his own life. Why would a rock-solid police officer with unwavering affection for his wife, job, and quaint hometown suddenly choose to end it all? Having spent a lifetime avoiding hard truths, Nora must now start facing them.
Unraveling her late husband's final days, Nora searches for an explanation—but finds a bewildering resistance from Brendan's best friend and partner, his fellow police officers, and his brittle mother. It quickly becomes clear to Nora that she is asking questions no one wants to answer. For beneath the soft cover of snow lies a powerful conspiracy that will stop at nothing to keep its presence unknown . . . and its darkest secrets hidden.
Praise for Cover of Snow

"Well-defined characters take us on an emotional roller-coaster ride through the darkest night, with blinding twists and occasionally fatal turns. This is a richly woven story that not only looks at the devastating effects of suicide but also examines life in a small town and explores the complexity of marriage. Fans of Nancy Pickard, Margaret Maron, and C. J. Box will be delighted to find this new author."Booklist (starred review)

"Milchman reveals an intimate knowledge of the psychology of grief, along with a painterly gift for converting frozen feelings into scenes of a forbidding winter landscape."The New York Times

"Milchman makes [readers] feel the chill right down to their bones and casts a particularly effective mood in this stylish thriller."Kirkus Reviews

"Milchman tackles small-town angst where evil can simmer under the surface with a breathless energy and a feel for realistic characters."The Seattle Times

"The plot unfolds at an excellent clip . . . ultimately rushing headlong to a series of startling revelations."—San Francisco Journal of Books

"Milchman expertly conveys Nora's grief in a way that will warm hearts even in the dead of a Wedeskyull winter."Publishers Weekly (starred review)
From the Hardcover edition.
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Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    Milchman / COVER OF SNOW

    Chapter One

    My husband wasn't in bed with me when I woke up that January morning. The mid-­winter sky was bruised purple and yellow outside the window. I shut bleary eyes against light that glared and pounded.

    A second later I realized my toes weren't burrowing into the hollows behind Brendan's knees, that when I flung out my arm it didn't meet his wiry chest, the stony muscles gone slack with sleep. I slid my hand toward the night table, fingers scrabbling around for our alarm clock.

    Seven-­thirty.

    It was late. As if drugged, my brain was making sense of things only after a dull delay. But it was a full hour past the time I always woke up. We always woke up. Brendan slept a cop's sleep, perpetually ready to take action, and I had been an early riser all my thirty-­five years.

    Bits of things began to take shape in my mind.

    The morning light, which entered so stridently through the window.

    Brendan not in bed with me. He must've gotten up already. I hadn't even felt him move.

    But Brendan had been working late all week; I hadn't yet found out why. My husband had good reason to sleep in. And if he had risen on time, why didn't he wake me?

    I felt a squeezing in my belly. Brendan knew I had an eight o'clock meeting with a new client this morning, the owner of a lovely but ramshackle old saltbox in need of repair. My husband took my burgeoning business as seriously as I did. He would never let me miss a meeting.

    On the other hand, Brendan would know that if I slept late, then I must be worn out. Maybe getting Phoenix off the ground had taken more out of me than I realized. Brendan probably figured he'd give me a few extra minutes, and the morning just got away from him.

    He must be somewhere in his normal routine now, toweling off, or fixing coffee.

    Except I didn't hear the shower dripping. Or smell the telltale, welcome scent of my morning fix.

    I pushed myself out of bed with hands that felt stiff and clumsy, as if I were wearing mittens. What was wrong with me? I caught a glimpse of my face in the mirror and noticed puddles of lavender under my eyes. It was like I hadn't slept a wink, instead of an extra hour.

    "Brendan? Honey? You up?"

    My words shattered the air, and I realized how very still our old farmhouse was this morning.

    Padding toward the bathroom, one explanation for the weight in my muscles, not to mention my stuporous sleep, occurred to me.

    Brendan and I had made love last night.

    It had been one of the good times; me lying back afterward, hollow, cored out, the way I got when Brendan was able to focus completely on me, on us, instead of moving so fiercely that he seemed to be riding off to some distant place in the past. We'd even lain awake for a while in the waning moments before sleep, fingers intertwined, Brendan studying me in a way that I felt more than saw in the dark.

    "Honey? Last night tired me out, I guess. Not that it wasn't worth it."

    I felt a smile tease the corners of my mouth, and pushed open the bathroom door, expecting a billow of steam. When only brittle air emerged, I felt that grabbing in my gut again. Cold tile bit my bare feet.

    "Brendan?"

    My husband never started the day without a shower; he claimed that a night's sleep made him ache. But there was no residue of moisture filming the mirror, nor fragrance of soap in the air. I grabbed a towel, wrapped it around my shoulders for warmth, and trotted toward the stairs, calling out his name.

    No answer.

    Could he have gone to the station early? Left me sleeping while my new client waited at his...

About the Author-
  • Jenny Milchman lives in New Jersey with her family. Cover of Snow is her first novel.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from October 29, 2012
    When house restorer Nora Hamilton finds that her policeman husband, Brendan, has hanged himself, her image of their idyllic life in Brendan’s Adirondacks hometown of Wedeskyull, N.Y., is shattered in Milchman’s evocative debut. Yet Nora is not content to accept her husband’s death as a suicide. As she tries to make sense of the tragedy and investigate, Brendan’s mother and his police co-workers stonewall her. Refusing to simply move on, Nora discovers more and more things about Brendan that don’t add up. Why did he get a prescription for sedatives a week before committing suicide? What does the death of his brother exactly 25 years before have to do with anything? The townsfolk’s reticence to answer these questions only further compels her to uncover the truth about Brendan’s past. Milchman expertly conveys Nora’s grief in a way that will warm hearts even in the dead of a Wedeskyull winter. Agent, Julia Kenny, Markson Thoma Literary.

  • Kirkus

    November 1, 2012
    Milchman's debut novel follows Nora Hamilton as she puzzles through the inexplicable and sudden suicide of her young husband, Brendan. Nora awakens one morning to find her bed cold and empty and her husband, a police officer in a small town not too far from New York City, missing. She climbs out of bed with a sense of foreboding and discovers that Brendan has inexplicably hanged himself in their home. An outsider in the small village of Wedeskyull, Nora finds herself the object of intense scrutiny by his fellow police officers and targeted by the piercing scorn that radiates from Brendan's mother, Eileen. Soon, Nora begins to unravel the mystery of what could have compelled her husband to choose to end his life without any warning. She unearths both a childhood filled with blame for an accident that took place many years before she came to town and a strange, autistic man-child named Dugger who offers Nora some cryptic clues into what might have driven Brendan to destroy himself and their marriage. Along the way, Nora picks up an ally or two in the form of a local newspaper reporter and her husband's aunt but finds herself leaning more and more on her sister, Teggie, for moral support until the truth finally comes out. Milchman makes the reader feel the chill right down to their bones and casts a particularly effective mood in this stylish thriller; but her storytelling falters when placed under the microscope of logic. The clues with which Nora pieces together the mystery of what's actually happening in Wedeskyull and why a happily married man like Brendan would kill himself are so obscure and easily overlooked that it's difficult to believe a grieving widow would zero in on them with such unerring precision. The ensuing investigation seems illogical and disjointed with the introduction of characters whose only apparent function is to take up literary space. Nice writing, but Nora's meandering investigation only makes a confusing plot even more so in a tale populated by irrelevant details and vague side journeys.

    COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    December 1, 2012

    After her husband, Brendan, commits suicide, Nora Hamilton questions why the seemingly happy policeman ended his life. Embarking on an aggressive search for answers, Nora learns just how unwelcoming and private the small Adirondack town of Wedeskyull, NY, is to outsiders. Nora treks through snow and ice on a dangerous mission for the truth, armed with her husband's box of mementos, a mysterious photograph, and cryptic clues from an autistic mechanic. When Nora's relentless quest unearths lies and corruption in her husband's hometown, she risks loss and danger. VERDICT Milchman's debut is a chillingly good mystery thriller that quickly picks up momentum and spirals into a whirling avalanche of secrets, danger, and suspense. [See Prepub Alert, 7/15/12; Milchman is chair of the International Thriller Writers' Debut Authors program--Ed.]--Mary Todd Chesnut, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights

    Copyright 2012 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from December 1, 2012
    This superlative dark, wintry debut is set in a small town in upstate New York. Nora Hamilton oversleeps one morning to find that her husband, Brendan, has hung himself. Nora is bereft, and she struggles to reconcile Brendan's suicide with their seemingly happy life together and with his job as a cop in his hometown. Her mother-in-law, a cold, forbidding woman, blames Nora, who tries talking to his partner, a cop who was also Brendan's best friend, but he advises her to move on with her life. Nora can't move on, not without some answers, and as she starts digging, she uncovers secrets about her husband and the town, the kind of secrets that people will do anything, including murder, to cover up. The ravages of winter impede her progress, but she plows on, determined to learn why Brendan never confided in her, but the answers prove more shocking than anything she might have imagined. These well-defined characters take us on an emotional roller-coaster ride through the darkest night, with blinding twists and occasionally fatal turns. This is a richly woven story that not only looks at the devastating effects of suicide but also examines life in a small town and explores the complexity of marriage. Fans of Nancy Pickard, Margaret Maron, and C. J. Box will be delighted to find this new author.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2012, American Library Association.)

  • Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Well-defined characters take us on an emotional roller-coaster ride through the darkest night, with blinding twists and occasionally fatal turns. This is a richly woven story that not only looks at the devastating effects of suicide but also examines life in a small town and explores the complexity of marriage. Fans of Nancy Pickard, Margaret Maron, and C. J. Box will be delighted to find this new author."--Booklist (starred review) "Milchman reveals an intimate knowledge of the psychology of grief, along with a painterly gift for converting frozen feelings into scenes of a forbidding winter landscape."--The New York Times "Milchman makes [readers] feel the chill right down to their bones and casts a particularly effective mood in this stylish thriller."--Kirkus Reviews "Milchman tackles small-town angst where evil can simmer under the surface with a breathless energy and a feel for realistic characters."--The Seattle Times "The plot unfolds at an excellent clip . . . ultimately rushing headlong to a series of startling revelations."--San Francisco Journal of Books "Milchman expertly conveys Nora's grief in a way that will warm hearts even in the dead of a Wedeskyull winter."
  • Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Wanted Man "Everything a great suspense novel should be--tense, emotional, mysterious, and satisfying . . . Let's hope this is the start of a long career."
  • Laura Lippman, New York Times bestselling author of And When She Was Good "Cover of Snow is a darkly atmospheric first novel that challenges all sorts of romantic notions we might harbor about small towns and the people we think we can trust. Luckily, heroine Nora Hamilton--and writer Jenny Milchman--have the skill and fortitude to lead readers through a suspenseful story of switchbacks and surprises. A mystery that will draw in fans of darker fare as well, Cover of Snow is reminiscent of Margaret Maron's work, which is about the highest praise I can bestow."
  • Harlan Coben, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Seconds Away "A terrific debut."
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