Cloudland is a stunning literary thriller set in rural Vermont from the much-praised author of Nightswimmer and Clara's Heart.
Once a major reporter for a national newspaper, Catherine Winslow has retreated to the Upper Valley of Vermont to write a household hints column. While out walking during an early spring thaw, Catherine discovers the body of a woman leaning against an apple tree near her house. From the corpse’s pink parka, Winslow recognizes her as the latest victim of a serial killer, a woman reported missing weeks before during a blizzard.
When her neighbor, a forensic psychiatrist, is pulled into the investigation, Catherine begins to discover some unexpected connections to the serial murders. One is that the murders might be based on a rare unfinished Wilkie Collins novel that is missing from her personal library. The other is that her much younger lover from a failed affair has unexpectedly resurfaced and is trying to maneuver his way back into her affections.
Elegant, haunting, and profoundly gripping, Cloudland is an ingenious psychological trap baited with murder, deception, and the intricacies of desire.
I enjoyed the combination of the classic "whodunit" with slices of contemporary rural Vermont life. Though the setting is "rural", the characters are really city transplants who bring all their complexities and affectations with them to the small town, which has all the typical gentrified conveniences. Not commenting on said gentrification, because without all the detailed urbanities and allusions to academia serving as an underlayer to a police thriller, the text might be a lot less interesting. The book is a true "page-turner", that's enhanced by a nice rendering of detail, both about the outer and inner landscape.
For me, the only bothersome characteristic seemed to be the lack of backstories for the secondary characters. We know a lot about Catherine, but it seems some of the other people have missing parts to their stories, and a bit more in the way of information as to when and how these people came into Catherine's story would have filled out the narrative a bit. Or, perhaps, as I tend to listen while exercising, I may have missed a sentence or two.
The narration was flawless, even and consistent, and without unnecessary drama. I will check out other work by this author and by this narrator.
28 of 30 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to Cloudland the most enjoyable?
The way the mystery unfolded - who dunnit
What did you like best about this story?
Puzzling which of the FEW seemingly "respectable characters " could be the perpertrator"
What does Eliza Foss bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Draws you into the scenes, creating them with her clever intonations,and draws you into every character . For me Its as good as watching a video.
If you could take any character from Cloudland out to dinner, who would it be and why?
The person who found the body. she stayed around when most would have run.
Any additional comments?
The story was very cleverly crafted with, for me, a surprize ending. Unnecessary incidental "padding" was nearly always tolerable and did not detract from the story too much.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
This was a pretty good book. It got off to kind of a slow start, but then picked up. The way
It was presented, it was easy to consider first one, then another person as the murderer. Interesting ending. However, I didn't feel as though the narration did good justice to the book.
There are several side stories involving the characters, some of which seem to add to the value of the book, others do not. The one that did, in my opinion, was a theme of dealing with domestic abuse, and what would keep a woman connected to someone who has injured her (as, in fact, often does occur). This fits in well with the whole theme of violence that is there in a book of this sort.
One small concern was that toward the end, as the movement toward the climax was taking place, a couple of characters who had played a more prominent role in much of the book just seemed ignored. One wonders what happened with them. But that does not detract from its having had a good ending (in the sense that I,at least, did not figure it out too quickly :-).
It is not the best mystery I have ever read, but overall it's a good read.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?
I eventually became motivated to listen until the end. Slow to start. The mystery held my interest.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Very little happens in this minimalist story. The main characters are not engaging, the plot bland, the end easy to figure out. Too bad, because Olshan knows how to write...
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Liked the Vermont setting and the characters. I didn't figure out who the murderer was until fairly far along in the story.
The narrator was using a Northeastern accent (I guess) which was too slow for me (and I live in Texas where people drawl) so I speeded up the narration which helped. Did not like the detailed descriptions of the romance with the student.
I've never read or listened to this author before and I would try another of his books. Would also recommend it to a friend as a better than average mystery novel.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
If you like crime novels, then stay far away from this book. It honestly was probably one of the worst in my current audible library, let alone in the vast range of books that I've read throughout my lifetime. The narration is not good, the characters are indistinguishable at times, and the woman's voice was just desperate and awful throughout. The story itself started off somewhat engaging but eventually I found myself thinking, "What is the author's point of including this?" a few different times. Not to mention the anti-climatic ending.
Some of the reviews here were very misleading, but I can only blame myself. Oh well, on to the next.
3 of 6 people found this review helpful
I usually shy away from books, that have consistant 3 star ratings, but after reading a few reader reveiws that I trust, I went with it. And I am so glad I did. I only rated it 4 stars because 5 stars for me is what I consider blockbuster. The character, Katherine, and the story reminded me of Jacqueline Winspear and Louise Penny books. Cloudland is a good mystery that keeps you guessing, has a great narrater, and has characters you would might like to know in real life. I could see a serios here, so I hope the Author gives us more of Katherine and Vermont.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful
I’d Recommend to: The fella’s sister (a current Vermont resident), my freshman year American lit professors
In 2012, I discovered I love mysteries/thrillers – anything that’s designed to build suspense. As part of that love, sometimes I find a few bad apples in the mix. Cloudland was, unfortunately, one of those bad apples.
I guess that’s not completely fair – it’s not bad in the sense that it’s terrible. In fact, it was an okay book. I doubt I will reread it or go for another Olshan anytime soon, but it wasn’t a total dud. The suspense factor was decent, and “twist” was not one I initially predicted. I enjoy when novels (even ones written to do so) surprise me, especially when that surprise absolutely makes sense in the context of the chapters leading to it.
I enjoyed most of the characters. Catherine’s daughter had a tendency to annoy, but she was still relatable and made rare (but necessary) appearances. Catherine seemed a little out of her element at times, despite being a former “major reporter.” In fact, Catherine came across as loopy and childlike; her phrasing and tone were not helped by the narrator, who really played it up. I found this distracting and irritating, and I almost added this to my DNF list .
The Bottom Line:
There’s a nice twist, but you might not want to go down the road leading to it.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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.
1 of 4 people found this review helpful
This is probably my least favourite audible book so far. I did not care for the narrators style, there were time when the timing was off and jarring. The story lacked freshness and I found myself profoundly out of sympathy with the main character who seemed lacking in adult emotions and more childlike than her daughter. The 'villian' is so heavily signposted that even I had worked out who it was before the denoument.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful