The Hounds of Winter

James Magnuson, Author . Univ. of Texas $21.95 (273p) ISBN 978-0-292-70990-4

As brooding and lethal as a Wisconsin winter storm, this taut thriller puts small-town relations into frightening relief. College senior Maya Neisen arrives a bit early to a Christmas reconciliation at a cabin in her father's hometown of Black Hawk, Wis., and is brutally murdered just minutes before her father, New York literary agent David Neisen, arrives. Finding his daughter slain, he hastily dials 911, then, hearing the screen door slam, chases a figure in a blue ski mask into the woods—to no avail. Returning to the cabin, he is confronted by sheriff Doug Danacek, who, after 35 years, still thinks David could have saved Danacek's brother from drowning. Noting Danacek's pants are wet up to his knees, and convinced that Danacek killed Maya as payback, David flees, steals the sheriff's Jeep and drives off, determined to find Maya's killer. Scrambling from pillar to post in the frozen wilderness, trying to find help among his old friends, David slowly uncovers a conspiracy among the denizens of the tiny, heavily Scandinavian backwater. While not terrific on the mechanics of the chase, Magnuson (Windfall ; Ghost Dancing ; etc.) keeps the psychological tension high, right up to the satisfying denouement. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/25/2005
Release date: 09/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
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