Title: The Snow Garden
Author: Christopher Rice
Narrator: James Daniels
Genre: Mystery/ Thriller
Length: 12 hours and 20 minutes
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (originally published 9-11-2008 this is a re-release for 12-9-2014)
Heat Level: Mild
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥5 Hearts
Blurb: A shocking death exposes dangerous forces of seduction, obsession, and vengeance lurking beneath the idyllic surface of a prestigious New England university.
It is more than just the late November weather that has cast a chill over the campus of Atherton University. When the wife of respected professor Eric Eberman is killed in a tragic accident, his secret student lover, Randall Stone, fears the professor tried to avert career suicide by committing homicide. Or do the dead woman’s haunting last words point to an even more damning crime?
Fearing the truth, Randall digs into his lover’s hidden history. But what he finds draws him and everyone he cares for into a dark dance of sexual manipulation, twisted retribution, and murderous rage where nothing is as it seems. And no one will escape from it unscathed…if they escape at all.
In this emotionally gripping tale from New York Times bestselling author Christopher Rice, the past may seem buried, but it can come back with a deadly vengeance.
Product Link: http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/The-Snow-Garden-Audiobook/B002V5D8NI
Review: Atherton University, freshman year. Kathryn, Randall, and Jesse come from different worlds, but find themselves drawn together in unexpected ways. For each of them, college promises a bright future and a way to disconnect from a dark, haunted past. But as winter sets in, their secret histories threaten to disrupt the layers of deceit that protect their fragile new lives.
Kathryn along with her roommate April, her openly gay best friend Randall, and his roommate Jesse who gives new meaning to the term promiscuous are just a few months into their freshman year at the prestigious Atherton University. The backdrop is a picturesque New England college town fraught with murder, mystery, mayhem, snow, and random college hookups.
The story opens twenty something years in the past with a chilling memory of lies, deceit and death that sets the stage for the series of events that about to unfold.
Kathryn, Randall and Jesse… the troublesome trio, have all come to college in an attempt to escape their own individual realities. All three haunted by their pasts and all three determined to make a fresh start and own their futures. The secrets they don’t share are the ones that could get them all killed though. When their Art Professor’s wife dies under somewhat mysterious circumstances, leaving behind and broken trail of clues as to what may have happened that dark, snowy night, Randall sets out to discover the truth behind her death.
What his friends don’t know is that Randall was having a torrid, secret affair with Eric Eberman, Art Professor and widower to the late Mrs. Eberman that just died in said crash. And he is just as determined to keep that secret under wraps. Kathryn and Jesse can sense the unease, the change in attitude and demeanor of their friend. They just can’t put their finger on the why.
With the Holidays approaching, Kathryn’s parents are hounding her to fly home, the last place she wants to be. And Jesse’s dad, who is in rehab, is looking for money from the same person he always looks to for cash, his son.
These three “friends” have to deal with normal, everyday college antics, studies, demanding families, a lover with a dead wife, their own psychotic tendencies and the discovery of another death that happened on campus over two decades ago that is directly linked to Eric. With danger around every corner there is a darkness lurking in the shadows that surround these three young adults, a darkness that could devour them all if they aren’t careful.
This book was a total mind f*ck! So many twists and turns with an ending that I didn’t see coming, not at all. The story started out a little slow, but once the pace picked up it didn’t stop. And regardless of the slow start, I was completely enthralled after that prologue, taking a look back to the past at Atherton University. That one chapter set the tone for the story and is directly linked to everything that is happening in the present.
There are several stories slowly unfolding throughout this novel that converge in the last few chapters, and Rice did an amazing job of slowly weaving each thread together from one chapter to the next, that when it all explodes at the end it makes perfect sense.
It’s hard to truly describe this story and not give anything away. I will say that it is one of the best books I’ve ever listened to. The writing was so intricate and personal, the spine was the suspense as it held the story up, the bones was the mystery as it flowed underneath the skin, a never-ending current. And the skin was the storyline that was strengthened by flawed, literally f*cked up characters that will keep you on the edge of your seat long after the story ends. I recommend this read to fans of mystery, suspense, psychological thrillers, and just a well-written story that is anything but predictable.
As for narration, this was my first listen with James Daniels leading the way. It will not be my last. I love a good storyteller, someone who can embody the words the author has written and deliver them in a way you can easily follow and recognize changes in tone and character. Daniels did just that with his re-telling of The Snow Garden.