Catherine Winslow lives in rural Vermont and writes a household hints column. She takes her dogs out for a walk one morning and finds the body of a woman leaning against a tree with Seventh Day Adventist literature in her coat. It has been a cold snowy winter, and the woman, who went missing a few weeks earlier, is very well preserved. Catherine’s neighbor, a forensic psychiatrist, becomes involved. Also, a former lover, a student of hers who is 15 years younger than her, reappears in her life. Her friends argue that she should have nothing to do with him, as when she tried to break off the affair, he had tried to strangle her. And now, the murdered woman is being linked to some other murdered women as well. A federal agent is convinced that Catherine’s former lover, Matthew, is the murderer. She does not want to believe that. In the meantime, she hears that the agent is withholding detailed information from the police, which makes him seem suspicious. And the setup for the murder might have been copied from a rare unfinished Wilkie Collins mystery of which she owned one of the only copies. Lots of suspense and interesting characters, including Catherine’s two dogs and her pot-bellied pig.
"Cloudland" rolls along, wispy and slight, well-named. As narrator Eliza Foss's soothing yet crisp voice adds shine to the text, listening is a pleasure, except for a few reservations.
First, a low-ranking assistant professor of English is unlikely to possess a rare 19th-century first edition from a famous writer, but if she did, she would never, ever loan it out to students. It belongs in a climate-controlled cabinet, not in someone's backpack. The don't-believe-it factor is high, and as this rare book is a crucial plot device, its inclusion comes close to ruining the story.
Second, the heroine is homophobic. She's hesitant about her bigotry, but that doesn't cut a lot of ice. Since this is a contemporary story, her reservations about her daughter's partner are tiresome and unlikable.
Third, Joseph Olshan's plot outline is too visible. It's like a hanger for a suit of clothes, instead of bones of a flesh-and-blood story.
All that aside, not bad, and the end is gripping. (P.S. Really liked the pig.)
graphic & fine artist
the writing is good but the pc aspect is annoying
no because I am angry that the "gay" aspect is once again brought unecessarily into a story.
the first chapter
don't really have an answer for that.. for me NO.
why does Hollywood and now, writers, feel that it is their duty to consistently bring the gay agenda into stories where it really has no bearing. It is as if there is a mission to shove this down everyone's throats at any expense, even good writing. Where it matters and is actually part of the story - fine. But when peppered in just to push an agenda i find it distracting and a total turn off.