Saturday, October 26, 2013

Review: The Last Winter of Dani Lancing by P.D. Viner

*Won through a goodreads giveaway*

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing is P.D. Viner's enthralling debut effort featuring a cast of people I don't think I'd want to be alone in a room with. Not one. I don't think there's one hero for me in this novel.

From the beginning it's obvious there are some strange things going to happen in theThe Last Winter of Dani Lancing because of her still seeming to be an alive and breathing character and the chapter heading saying it was December 2010. If I had not read the book sleeve I would have assumed that Dani was still up and at 'em. She's not up and at 'em. She's very much so not up and at 'em.

Jim Lancing, Patty Lancing, and Tom Bevans are all still engulfed in at least one state of mourning 20 years later since the death of Dani Lancing as if it has only happened 20 minutes earlier. Jim, Dani's father, still walks around having conversations with her ghost. Tom tries to move on but is unable to let the torch he's held for Dani go out. He constantly compares every potential mate to her but they just don't fit the bill. Patty is probably the worse off.

News that many cold cases would be looked at because of breakthroughs in DNA testing is what really sets the ball rolling...down hill. Tom, Dani's childhood love, mentions this to Patty, Dani's mother. Patty, once a successful journalist, sees this as the break she needs. The break from feeling so consumed with guilt that has cost her her job, her husband, and her sanity. Tom, now a detective who investigates cases such as Dani's, is not even aware of the crazy he has unleashed. Eventually, we learn all about the last winter of Dani Lancing.

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing jumps from the past during the late 80s and the present 2010 in an nonsequential way that I found highly annoying at first. I couldn't decipher the past Dani from the present Dani thanks to the father making this so torturous. As pages flew by, I daresay I enjoyed this order because it allowed the layers to be peeled back slowly as most chapters ended with no closure or cliff-hangers.

As mentioned earlier in this review, I would not want to be alone in a room with any of these characters. Especially not Patty. They are all proof of what guilt, lies, secrets, and grief can do to a person. They all seem like former shells of themselves but there isn't enough information given about the people they used to be. I guess that's the point with anyone who's ever been dealt a devastating loss and how that loss creates a new person who can never go back to being who they once were.

It may seem that there are few more gripes than one should have if rating a novel 4 stars. My reason for such a high rating is because I couldn't help but be invested in the mystery of the last winter of Dani Lancing. Even when I wanted to shake these characters from their fog, I remember how broken someone feels when they are dealing with the loss of someone at the eve of beginning their "real" adult life. I felt sorry that these people were dealing with their grief so poorly and seemingly had no escape except for the truth of her death being revealed. What a reveal!

This debut effort is deserving of its 4-star rating although I found so much fault in the characters and their inability to move on. The Last Winter of Dani Lancing will appeal to fans of psychological thrillers. I enjoyed reading this very much and hope Viner's next will be just as good. The truth, no matter how ugly, needs to be told before any ghosts can be set free. ****

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