Kirkus Reviews approves: AFTER THE WINTER

The discovery of a secret half sister leads a woman into a web of deception and intrigue in this debut novel.

At 23, Sally Ryder finds herself unmoored following a betrayal by an unfaithful fiance. Then an article in a Montreal paper brings news of a sudden loss. Helena Lane, Sally’s half sister, was killed in a car accident along with her husband, Howard, while returning to Midwinter, their estate in Quebec. Sally had learned her mother was previously married after receiving a letter from Helena explaining the family connection and expressing a desire to meet Sally. Despite her sibling’s death, Sally wants to learn more and travels to Quebec. While staying in the town of Waverley, she befriends Dr. Tom Munro, Howard’s childhood friend. They are shocked to discover that Howard’s secretary, Janine Douglas, will inherit the entire estate, and their surprise turns to suspicion when they meet her friend Carson DeWitt and his sister, Debbie, who have a keen interest in Janine and Midwinter. Sally and Tom’s probe leads them to suspect Helena’s and Howard’s deaths may not have been an accident. As their attraction deepens, they are in a race to uncover the truth before tragedy strikes again. Dowdall’s impressive novel is an entertaining and suspenseful entry in the gothic mystery genre. The setting is a key component of the tale, and Quebec and Midwinter are vividly rendered. The author captures the unique rhythms of life in this picturesque community, from the locals who call Quebec home to the wealthy newcomers seeking a second residence. The strong setting is matched by her well-developed characters. Sally is an earnest and intelligent heroine whose investigation into Helena’s death leads to an unexpected romance with Tom. Their relationship develops slowly in scenes that crackle with amorous tension. The supporting cast includes the mysterious Janine and the precocious Ashley Smeeton, a 9-year-old with a love of Nancy Drew books and dreams of becoming a detective. Dowdall’s fast-paced narrative unfolds like a classic Agatha Christie mystery, with unexpected and satisfying plot twists.

Atmospheric romantic suspense in the tradition of Daphne du Maurier.

Leave a Reply