Seattle is not known for an abundance of snow. When the rare snow storm hits (and I use the word “storm” very loosely to describe snow here), the city pretty much shuts down. PNW drivers are completely baffled by how to drive in this, or really any weather. Today one of our rare snow storms has begun. If the forecast is accurate, this will be the biggest snow storm we’ve had in 10 years. As of 1pm, traffic in my neighborhood was already piling up from cars trying to commute home before the potential blizzard. The kids got out of school early. Local grocery stores are already running out of stock. Nearly everyone I know is preparing to hunker down for a weekend of snowy hibernation.
And I? I stocked up on books. Just in case my giant to-be-read piles are not enough to get me through the next several wintry days. (Hopefully my husband isn’t reading this, or he might ask questions about my recent book expenditures… Love you, my handsome husband! Thanks for supporting my reading habit.)
Appropriately, my mom just loaned me Girl in Snow. Now, my mom is the type of reader who solves every murder mystery early on. So I was pleasantly intrigued when this recent loaner was accompanied by a note letting me know she didn’t solve the murder mystery before the end.
Pretty and popular teenager, Lucinda Hayes, is found dead in the snow near a playground carousel. Any decent evidence at the scene of the crime is lost in the snow melt. Though there are several potential suspects, the police are mostly at a loss as to who may have committed the atrocity.
Girl in Snow is written from the perspective of three central characters in alternating chapters. Two of them are Lucinda’s classmates, one was stalking her, one thinks she may have had an indirect hand in making Lucinda disappear, and then there’s one of the primary detectives assigned to the case whose career is tarnished by association to his former partner, a disgraced ex-cop.
The beauty of this book is the tone. The murder of a teenage girl is dark stuff in the hands of any author. This book is certainly dark. There were elements I found outright creepy. Though Kukafka goes beyond the usual atmosphere of this type of novel. Girl in Snow is moody. Each and every character is yearning for something. As a result, this novel is as much character drama as it is murder mystery.
Kukafka’s writing is really lovely – delicate prose, subtle foreshadowing, believable characters. The plot could have moved in multiple directions, each leading to a different murderer, which is what makes it difficult to predict. Though once the ending clicked into place, it seemed like the most reasonable conclusion.
In truth, I did suspect the ending. I won’t say I predicted it, because I had two theories going about who might be the killer, and I spent the entire novel second guessing those theories. I also had an advantage over other readers. After all, my mom had tipped me off that it wasn’t easy to figure out. So I read this book with a finer attention to detail that I normally do. I was looking for obscure or indistinct clues.
Have you read Girl in Snow? Did you figure it out before the end?