The Last Winter of Dani Lancing
P. D. Viner
Pub Date Oct 8 2013
P.D. Viner bursts on to the scene with a gritty and powerful crime thriller that explores the dark, dangerous line that separates grief, violence, loss, and revenge.
Twenty years ago, college student Dani Lancing was kidnapped and brutally murdered. The killer was never found; the case has long-gone cold.
Her parents, Patty and Jim, were utterly devastated, their marriage destroyed. Patty threw away her successful journalism career and developed a violent obsession with the unsolved crime. She is utterly consumed with every lead and possible suspect no matter how far-fetched. Jim, however, is now a shell of his former self, broken down and haunted—sometimes literally—by the loss of his daughter. Tom Bevans, Dani’s childhood sweetheart, has become a detective intent on solving murders of other young women. He was so scarred by Dani’s death that his colleagues have nicknamed him “The Sad Man.” After twenty years of grief, all of three of them are burnt-out and hopeless.
But when Tom finds an opening on the case, everything changes. Patty’s obsessions are lit up once again and she will do anything for revenge—even if it means dragging her whole family back into the nightmare, as lies and secrets are unearthed and the truth finally revealed.
Told in fractured time, with a breathless pace and masterful plotting, The Last Winter of Dani Lancing is a superb thriller: swift, edgy, gripping, and unforgettable.
A must read mystery/crime novel.
This book was by far one of the best mystery/crime novels I have read this year. There were many twists and turns that kept me guessing right up to the last pages. The characters were well drawn, sad, empathetic, desperate and credible. P D Viner is a fantastic story teller, his settings are realistic and he writes with cinematic prowess – I could see the story play out in the big screen of my mind and do not doubt it will be very long before the feature films rights to this story are snapped up! I wish I had the money to produce this novel as a film – it would work so well.
I loved that the reader was able to form a picture of Dani through the recollections and opinions of other characters in the book – she was a daughter, a friend, a sports star, a popular student; slowly the bigger picture emerges, warts and all. It is interesting to see how we mean different things to different people and this book demonstrates that aspect of life and friend/kinship very well.
The plot is complex and full of twists and turns and the narrative highlights that life can be wearisome, sometimes depressing and that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary and sometimes brutal things. No one is quite how they first appear – there are sinister undertones waiting to be revealed. Perhaps it was the character of Tom Bevans, nicknamed “The Sad Man” that surprised me most of all – his resourcefulness, his ability to react without fear for his own position in society and his physical wellbeing in order to protect Dani and his powerful devotion to her was incredible. No matter what Dani and her destructive lifestyle threw at him he remained devoted and obsessed, obsessed with the image he had constructed and determined to protect that image.
The bigger picture story looks at love, grief and loss and revenge. It speaks about actions, reactions and the unforeseen consequences of those actions. Despite the sadness and the violence in this story there is a modicum of hope, love and optimism sprinkled throughout the novel that lifts this book above the bleakness of such horrific tragedy; and tragic it was.
I loved the characters; I loved their imperfections (mostly), their guilt and suffering, though intense and often paralysing, was credible and moving. This is a very well written story of modern life that demonstrates how quickly one mistake in judgment can effect so many.
The ending does reconcile some of the issues but leaves so much unsaid, so much to the reader’s imagination. A fantastic read!