The Last Winter of Dani Lancing: A Novel by Phil Viner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Actually, this was a little more like a 4.5, but still - very close to five. It's not quite a mystery, not quite suspense, in much the same way Reconstructing Amelia is.
Readers need to pay close attention to timeframes and voice here: we travel back 20 years to when Dani was alive, then to 2010 when she's dead and her parents are still mourning/trying to find out who killed her. We also hear from Tom (former BFF/possible boyfriend, now "The Sad Man" and a Detective Superintendent), Jim (her father), Patty (her mother) and a few others. And Dani appears, not quite in a The Lovely Bones-esque way, but more a manifestation of her father's need to have her in his life (there's no look at the afterlife, nor is she watching over the investigation).
The pacing here works well, with moments of action spaced out between reflection on the past and What Happened and Why. The What Happened seems to be clearcut, but there are surprises along the way. As for the Why, well, that'd be spoiler territory. At times it occasionally felt as there was a little too much coincidence or twisting but as those moments unfolded I rethought that. It was also nice to see that some of the obvious conclusions turn out to not be quite so obvious. Overall, what's sticking with me is the question of what grief and love can do to people, and what lengths people will go to to preserve love.
ARC provided by publisher.
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