Cover image for Winter at the door : a novel
Title:
Winter at the door : a novel
Author:
Graves, Sarah, 1951-
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Bantam Books, [2014]
Physical Description:
261 pages ; 25 cm
Summary:
Jake Tiptree's onetime helper, Lizzie Snow, takes over as Eastport's police chief only to find herself stalked by a deadly adversary from her past.

"Moving from Boston to remote Bearkill, Maine, isn't homicide cop Lizzie Snow's idea of a step up. But breaking away from tragedy and personal betrayal is at least a step in the right direction. Her dead sister's fate still torments her, as does her long-missing niece's disappearance. Lizzie hopes to find the mysteriously vanished child here, amid the coming ice and snow. But in the Great North Woods, something darker and more dangerous than punishing winter is also bound for Bearkill. The town is a world apart in more than distance--full of people who see everything, say little, and know more than they'll share with an outsider. The only exceptions are the handsome state cop who once badly broke Lizzie's heart and desperately wants another chance--and Lizzie's new boss, sheriff Cody Chevrier, who's counting on her years of homicide experience to help him solve his most troubling case, before it's too late. A rash of freak accidents and suicides has left a string of dead men--all former local cops. Now the same cruel eyes that watched them die are on Lizzie--and so is the pressure to find out what sort of monster has his hooks in this town, what his ruthless game is, and just how brutally he'll play to win. Whatever the truth is, its twisted roots lie in the desolate backwoods of Aroostook County: where the desperate disappear, the corrupt find shelter, and the innocent lose everything. It's there that a cunning and utterly cold-blooded killer plans the fate of the helpless lives at his mercy--one of whom may be the lost child Lizzie will do anything to save. As a blizzard bears down, and Bearkill's dark secrets claw their way to the surface, Lizzie gears up for a showdown that could leave the deep, driven snow stained blood red"--Provide by publisher.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780345535016
Format :
Book

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On Order

Summary

Summary

Perfect for fans of Jenny Milchman, Linda Castillo, and Lisa Gardner--the first book in a suspenseful new crime thriller series featuring the tough but haunted police chief Lizzie Snow, a big-city cop with a mission, taking on a small town with a dark side.
 
Moving from Boston to remote Bearkill, Maine, isn't homicide cop Lizzie Snow's idea of a step up. But breaking away from tragedy and personal betrayal is at least a step in the right direction. Her dead sister's fate still torments her, as does her long-missing niece's disappearance. Lizzie hopes to find the mysteriously vanished child here, amid the coming ice and snow. But in the Great North Woods, something darker and more dangerous than punishing winter is also bound for Bearkill.
 
The town is a world apart in more than distance--full of people who see everything, say little, and know more than they'll share with an outsider. The only exceptions are the handsome state cop who once badly broke Lizzie's heart and desperately wants another chance--and Lizzie's new boss, sheriff Cody Chevrier, who's counting on her years of homicide experience to help him solve his most troubling case, before it's too late.
 
A rash of freak accidents and suicides has left a string of dead men--all former local cops. Now the same cruel eyes that watched them die are on Lizzie--and so is the pressure to find out what sort of monster has his hooks in this town, what his ruthless game is, and just how brutally he'll play to win. Whatever the truth is, its twisted roots lie in the desolate backwoods of Aroostook County: where the desperate disappear, the corrupt find shelter, and the innocent lose everything. It's there that a cunning and utterly cold-blooded killer plans the fate of the helpless lives at his mercy--one of whom may be the lost child Lizzie will do anything to save. As a blizzard bears down, and Bearkill's dark secrets claw their way to the surface, Lizzie gears up for a showdown that could leave the deep, driven snow stained blood red.
 
Praise for Winter at the Door
 
"Sarah Graves writes with grace and intelligence, and a love for her state shines through in this stylish debut of a new series set against Maine's dark and foreboding forests. I'm hooked!" --Margaret Maron, New York Times bestselling author of Designated Daughters
 
"Fast and dangerous, an extraordinarily entertaining read, Winter at the Door grabbed me from the thrilling first page." --Linda Castillo, New York Times bestselling author of The Dead Will Tell
 
"Readers who enjoy Linda Castillo and Lisa Gardner will welcome Lizzie, a strong, motivated woman making her way in the frozen north." -- Booklist
 
"Lizzie is edgy and independent. . . . Taking a page from Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum, two hunky guys pursue Lizzie, each stumbling over the other as they try to protect a woman who really can protect herself. Readers can relax in Graves's able hands as she spins a complex tale with twists and turns that feel earned, and a character who knows exactly who she is. "-- The Boston Globe
 
"An entertaining story that proceeds to an explosive conclusion." --Mystery Scene
 
"A superbly suspenseful mystery with likable tough cop Lizzie and a town full of character. It's bound to appeal to readers who enjoy Jenny Milchman's books." -- Library Journal (starred review)


Author Notes

Sarah Graves lives with her husband in Eastport, Maine, in the 1823 Federal-style house that helped inspire her books.

(Publisher Provided) Sarah Graves has been a writer (and a reader!) all her life. She sent her first story to McCall's magazine when she was seven or so. It was about a squirrel lost in the woods. The editors sent a form rejection letter, possibly because it was not very realistic for a squirrel to be lost in the woods. But this began her literary career of getting creatures (especially human creatures) into peril, and letting them figure out how to get themselves out again. She is best known for her Home repair is Homicide Series. Her titles include: Knockdown, Crawlspace, A Face in the Window, and A Bat in the Belfry.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Graves brings Elizabeth Lizzie Snow back from her previous series, Home Repair Homicide, to the town of Bearkill, Maine, where Lizzie hopes to leave the troubles from her life in Boston behind. As a deputy sheriff in a tight-lipped small town, she is in for some surprises. Sheriff Cody Chevrier is hoping that Lizzie's experience as a homicide detective will help him solve his latest case. Four men have died in what appear to be accidents or suicides. All are former police officers. Chevrier thinks that there are connections and that foul play may be involved. Lizzie is recovering from her sister's tragic death and hoping to find her young niece, who has disappeared. She also has to deal with a a former boyfriend hoping for another chance and with the attentions of the local veterinarian, who is attractive but a bit too smooth. Readers who enjoy Linda Castillo and Lisa Gardner will welcome Lizzie, a strong, motivated woman making her way in the frozen north.--Bibel, Barbara Copyright 2015 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

In this promising first in a new series, cop Lizzie Snow, who was introduced in Graves's 16th Home Repair Is Homicide mystery, 2013's Bats in the Belfry, still has her doubts about leaving Boston for Bearkill, Maine, especially since her former lover, police detective Dylan Hudson, made the recommendation. But the possibility that her missing niece, Nicki, could be in the area was enough for her to accept the hazily defined position with the Aroostook County Sheriff's Department. Sheriff Cody Chevrier hopes that she can get to the truth in the suspicious deaths of several retired policemen around this Canadian border region. As Lizzie settles in, Dylan's investigation of two murdered girls in Bangor leads him to Bearkill and an attempt to rekindle his relationship with Lizzie. Amid all the murder and mayhem, Lizzie connects the dots, and the plot cannonballs to a conclusion that leaves readers eager for the next installment. Agent: Jane Rotrosen, Jane Rotrosen Literary Agency. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Starred Review. In this series launch featuring Boston homicide detective Lizzie Snow, first introduced in 2014's A Bat in the Belfry, the latest in Graves's long-running "Home Repair Is Homicide" series, Lizzie has accepted a job as a neighborhood liaison officer in the remote Maine town of Bearkill after she receives a tip that her missing niece may be nearby. However, Sheriff Cody Chevrier has ulterior motives in offering her the job: he's convinced some area suicides of retired cops are actually murders and hopes Lizzie's homicide experience will help his off-the-record investigation. VERDICT Darker in tone than Graves's previous series, this is a superbly suspenseful mystery with likable tough cop Lizzie and a town full of character. It's bound to appeal to readers who enjoy Jenny Milchman's books. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

One two weeks later "This is not what I signed up for," Lizzie Snow said. "And you know it." She gazed around in dismay at the small, dusty office whose plate-­glass front window looked out at the remote northern town of Bearkill, Maine. The office walls were covered with fake wood paneling, the ceiling was stained 1960s-­era acoustical tiles, and the ratty beige carpet was worn through to the backing in the traffic areas. "You said I'd be . . ." The furnishings consisted of a beat-­up metal desk, an office chair with one of its cheap plastic wheels missing, and a metal shelf rack of the kind used to store car parts in an auto supply store, plus one old phone book. Not that sticking her in a better office would've helped. ". . . on patrol," she finished, trying to control her temper. Squinting out across Main Street, she told herself that the town, at least, wasn't so bad. Two rows of small businesses and shops, a luncheonette, and a corner bar called Area 51 whose sign featured a big-­eyed alien with a cocktail in its hand made up the downtown district. There was a laundromat, a flower shop, a supermarket, and an office supply place called The Paper Chase. All were apparently doing business, though not exactly thriving; years ago in the post-­WWII housing boom and for decades after, timber harvesting had supported this community and many others like it. But with the lumber industry sadly diminished, the area's agriculture--­potatoes, oats, broccoli--­couldn't take up the slack, and there wasn't much else here to work at. Or so she'd read. Bearkill was one of many Maine towns she'd Googled before coming here, but this was her first visit. Too bad it's not my last . . . She supposed she should've liked the little town's air of brave defiance, stuck way out here in the woods with not even a movie theater or a Whole Foods, much less a museum or jazz club. But, dear God, there wasn't even a Starbucks, the only hair salon was called The Cut-­n-­Run, and if you could buy any makeup but Maybelline in this town, she'd eat her hat. "Yeah, I know the job's not like I described," Aroostook County sheriff Cody Chevrier admitted. Six-­two and one-­eighty or so with close-­clipped silver hair and the perma-­tanned skin of a guy who spent a lot of his time outdoors, summer and winter, Chevrier was in his late fifties but still trimly athletic-looking in his tan uniform. "Since you and I talked last, though, there've been a few developments." "Yeah? Like what, a crime wave?" she asked skeptically. On the sixty-­mile drive north up Route 1 from the Aroostook County seat of Houlton this morning, she'd seen little evidence of that. Farms, forest land, widely spaced homes and small roadside businesses were the norm here, she'd seen after filling out the stacks of pre-­employment paperwork Chevrier had put before her. Around the courthouse and the sheriff's office, men and women in business garb carried briefcases and drove late-­model sedans, but once she'd left Houlton it was good old boys in gimme caps and women in pastel sweatshirts all the way. Nobody looked as if they had a whole lot to steal, or the inclination to steal anything, either. "You might be surprised at what goes on in this area," said Chevrier. "Uh-­huh." She eyed him sideways. "Maybe." And moonbeams might fly out of her ass the next time she passed gas, too. But she'd been a cop for a dozen years now, and she wasn't betting on it; crime-­wise--­ and otherwise, she thought bleakly--­this place was deader than Elvis. "You said I'd be on the road," she reminded Chevrier again. "First with a partner and then . . ." According to the Aroostook County Sheriff's Department's website, there were 2,500 miles of public roadway in "the County" (locals always used the capital C ), which spread across half of northern Maine. Eight thousand miles more of privately maintained roads belonged to major landowners, primarily lumber companies. In area the County was larger than Rhode Island and Connecticut combined; its 71,000-­plus residents generated approximately 600 criminal complaints and 400 traffic incidents each quarter. In addition, the sheriff's department served court orders and warrants, moved prisoners and psych patients, worked with the Maine DEA, the warden service, Border Patrol, and Homeland Security, and staffed a seventy-­two-­bed county jail; the transport detail alone logged 160,000 miles per year. And none of it could afford to get screwed up just because she was a new deputy. She'd need an experienced partner for a while before working a patrol assignment on her own; that much she'd understood. Eventually, though, she'd be out there solo: keeping her eyes and ears open, asking polite questions and maybe a few not-­so-­polite ones. Searching--­ And sooner or later finding. If, that is, it turned out that there was really anything--­any one --­up here to find . . . Out of the blue, Chevrier asked the question she'd seen on his face when he'd first met her in person the day before. "So, you will pass the physical, right?" The Aroostook County Sheriff's Department's mandatory pre-­employment fitness test, he meant. Sit-­ups, push-­ups, a mile-­and-­a-­half run . . . all required in order to finalize her hiring. "Yeah," she replied, controlling her impatience. Back in Boston, where she'd been a homicide detective until a few weeks ago--­ dear God, was it only that long? --­she'd done those things religiously at the police academy gym on Williams Avenue. Six days a week, sometimes seven . . . Usually seven. It was among the joys of being a woman cop: to the dirtbags--­and to some of your coworkers, too, though they'd deny it--­you were a pushover until proven otherwise. So there was no sense allowing for even the slightest chance of it being true; on a good day, she bench-­pressed 220. She just didn't look like she could, or at any rate not at first glance. Short, spiky black hair expertly cut, blood-­red nails matching her lipstick, and smoky-­dark eye makeup meticulously applied took care of that, as did her scent, which was Guerlain's Rose Barbare , and her high-­heeled black boots rising to the tops of her tightly muscled calves, snug as a second skin. She had no uniforms here yet, so today she wore black jeans, a white silk T-­shirt and navy hoodie, and a butter-­soft leather jacket. The look wasn't fancy, but perhaps partly as a result of all those gym hours it was effective; exiting Chevrier's vehicle, she'd attracted second glances from several of Bearkill's passing citizens, some even approving. Some not so much. Hey, screw them. "I'll do just fine," she repeated evenly, "on the fitness tests." "Okay," Chevrier replied. If you say so, his face added, but not as doubtfully this time; whether it was the confidence in her voice, a closer appraisal of her gym-­toned form, or a combination of the two that convinced him, she didn't know. Or care. "In that case, you're the new community liaison officer here in Bearkill," he said. "First one we've ever had." Gesturing at the dingy room, he added, "I'll set you up with account numbers for furniture and supplies, and we've got people on contract to get the place cleaned and painted for you." On the way here, he'd explained that her assignment had changed because a federal grant he'd been expecting to lose had come through after all. So he had funding for this new position. But he hadn't described her duties, an omission she thought odd. Could it be he believed that being from a big city meant she already knew the usual activities and objectives of such a job? Or . . . was she supposed to invent them herself? Her hiring had been fast-­tracked, too: a mere two weeks between the time he'd learned that she was in the coastal Maine town of Eastport--­her first stop after leaving Boston--­and this morning's paper­work. It was another thing she felt curious about: why he'd been so interested in her, and in her homicide experience especially. She made a mental note to ask him about all of it if he didn't volunteer the information soon, just as a husky teenager on an old balloon-­tired Schwinn bike pedaled by the big front window. Sporting a nose stud and a silvery lip ring and with his pale hair twisted into utterly improbable-­looking dreadlocks, the kid wore faded jeans and a drab T-­shirt and was tattooed on all visible parts of his body except his face. Really? she thought in surprise. So apparently not every young male in Aroostook County was a good old boy; she wondered if Tattoo Kid here was a skilled fighter, or if he survived looking the way he did by trading something other than punches. ". . . department credit card for gas, but we do repairs back at the house," Chevrier was saying, meaning that vehicles were taken care of in Houlton, she thought, likely through a local car dealer's service department. Which as news was not earthshaking, nor was the rest of the procedural stuff he was reciting. Lizzie slipped a hand into her jacket pocket and withdrew a creased photograph of a little girl who was about nine years old. The child had straight, shoulder-­length blond hair and blue eyes, and wore a red, white, and blue striped cape of some shiny material; she held a small banner that read happy 4th of july! I'm coming, honey, Lizzie thought at the photograph, worn from frequent handling. I'll find you. And when I do . . . She tucked the picture away again. It was why she had left Boston, why she was here in Maine at all: an anonymous tip, her first hint in years that she had living family after all. But she still didn't know the end of that last sentence. When I do . . . then what? ". . . get yourself a PO box right away so we can send you your paychecks," Chevrier was saying. She wasn't even sure that the child in the photograph was the one she sought. Her younger sister Cecily's infant daughter, Nicolette, had gone missing from Eastport eight years earlier, right after Cecily's own mysterious death. If she wasn't a sad little pile of bones in an unmarked grave somewhere, Nicki was Lizzie's only living kin, and after a long time of believing the child was dead there'd been other hints recently, too, that instead she was somewhere in northern Maine. But Lizzie wasn't sure of that, either, and anyway, northern Maine was a big place. There was, she realized for the thousandth time, so much she didn't know. I should have done more, started sooner. I shouldn't have just let it go. But she had; for one thing, she'd needed to earn a living, and there was no undoing any of it now. Tattoo Kid pedaled by the front windows a second time, his eyes meeting hers briefly and then looking quickly away again as Chevrier went on: "I'll get a requisition going for your computer stuff, have a carpet crew come up from Bangor . . ." She turned to him. "No." His brow furrowed. "So . . . what, you mean you've decided that you don't want the spot?" For a moment she was tempted; she'd have loved telling him to take his job and stick it. After all, who offered somebody one position, then waited until they showed up before informing them that it had turned into something entirely different? But . . . "Oh, I'm taking it." She crossed to the desk, grabbed the phone book, and threw it into a corner. Who used a phone book anymore, either? "But only on two conditions. First . . ." She aimed a finger at the front window. "You want me to build friendly relationships with the people here in Bearkill? I mean, that's what a liaison officer does, right?" She had the funniest feeling that Chevrier might not know quite what one of those did himself. But never mind: "There's only one way I can quick-­start relationships with these folks--­" At the far end of the downtown block, the office supply store was somehow still alive, while at the other end a run-­down gas station survived, as did the tiny convenience store attached. "--­and that's for me to buy stuff from them." Which was also true in Boston, and anywhere else there were cops: coffee and a lottery ticket at the bodega, an apple at the fruit stand, sandwiches at the luncheonette--­you bought a little of this or that anywhere you thought you might get the chance to talk to people, hear things. "Supplies, cleaning, painting, new tires for the squad car whether it needs 'em or not," she went on. "All of it has to get done locally. And as for computer equipment?" She turned to face him. "Look, Sheriff, I've got my own reasons for wanting the job you're trying to foist on me, okay? So I'm not walking away even though you know damned well you absolutely deserve it." He shrugged again, acknowledging this. "But," she went on, "as far as computers and printer paper and everything else this place needs?" She waved a hand around the bleak little storefront. "Either that office supply joint down the street is about to hit a big payday, and my car gets serviced here in town, or you can forget you met me." She expected pushback about the car, at least; regulations, routine. But instead he kept nodding at her demands, which among other things gave her an even stronger sense of how very much he wanted her here. Curiouser and curiouser. "Okay," he said. "That makes sense. Do it however you want. You'll need purchase orders, but . . ." "Not so fast. You haven't heard the other condition." Chevrier looked wary--­"What's that?"--­as the tattooed kid on the bike rolled by yet a third time. Briskly she zipped her jacket, settled her black leather satchel on her shoulder, and pulled the creaky front door open, waving him out ahead of her. "Come on," she told him. The kid with the piercings, body art, and blond dreadlocks was now halfway down the street, looking back at them. She yanked the balky door shut, then jiggled the key in the lock until the tumblers fell sluggishly. "I'm hungry. We'll talk over lunch. You're buying." Excerpted from Winter at the Door: A Novel by Sarah Graves All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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