Kirkus Review: A Surprising Thriller with a Great Mystery

Kirkus Review

The search for a missing young woman unearths dark secrets in Sterling’s thriller.

Megan Floyd disappeared on December 12, 1996, when she was 19 years old. Two years later, her father, Tom, is still searching for her. His marriage has fallen apart and his wife, Lisa, is barely hanging on, believing Megan to be dead.

Yet Tom still has hope. He hires Marshall York, a troubled detective, and his assistant investigator, Hannah Jacobs, who has a disturbing past of her own. Tom suspects Kevin Strand, a local serial killer who sits on death row, convicted of other crimes. Tom also points Marshall in the direction of Megan’s ex-boyfriend, Jack Gardner, who did not participate in the search for Megan. Hannah does her own sleuthing and becomes suspicious of Benjamin Paterson, who worked with Megan in the deli of the Fraser Market and had previously broken into a woman’s home.

As the three continue their search, they uncover a startling and dark secret: Megan was using and dealing drugs. Tom is closer to answers than ever before, but he may not like the truth when he finds it. The author has delivered an emotionally raw and viscerally intense mystery thriller that never pulls its punches (“He instantly realized he’d never said those words aloud—that he was hopeful that a rotting corpse deep in the forest was his baby girl”). The three main characters, Tom, Marshall, and Hannah, are varied and compelling, driving the plot forward in complex storylines that explore their multifaceted personalities.

The mystery itself is unpredictable while also believable, with many unexpected and harrowing twists and turns. The content of the story is heavy and dark, but Sterling handles the material and the characters with care and sensitivity. Fans of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2005) will find much here to love and will look forward to further stories in the series.

The Fear of Winter is an exciting and surprising thriller with a great mystery.

Listen to an excerpt from The Fear of Winter:

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