cover image Silent Snow

Silent Snow

Steve Thayer. Viking Penguin, $24.95 (340pp) ISBN 978-0-670-86572-7

In this quirky and complex suspense novel, Thayer entangles some of the main characters from his debut thriller, The Weatherman, in a re-creation of the Lindbergh kidnapping in present-day Minnesota. While it begins with a provocative premise, the plot loses its edge in an overload of historical detail and an unconvincing conspiracy theory. The kidnapped child is Dylan Beanblossom, son of the famous, stunning (""beauty incarnate"") Twin Cities news anchor (and former police officer) Andrea Labore, and star newspaper reporter Rick Beanblossom, an ex-Marine who, in a gothic flourish, wears a sky blue mask to cover a napalm-scarred face, a legacy of Vietnam. Dylan vanishes during a snowstorm on March 1, the anniversary of the Lindbergh kidnapping--the same day Rick receives a mysterious parcel purporting to hold the missing Lindbergh ransom money. Predictably, Andrea and Rick investigate on their own when many people fall under suspicion: Jasmine, the baby's troubled nanny, who comes from the inner city; Stephanie Koslowski, the FBI agent with a tainted record; Les Angelbeck, a retired city cop; Dr. Freda Wilhelm, the hulking county coroner; Katherine Howard, the grande dame who owns Rick's newspaper; and newspaper pressman Swede Bjorenson, whose wife had ties to the Lindbergh kidnapping. As suspects and subplots accumulate, Thayer inserts a long section set in the 1930s, following Minneapolis reporter Grover Mudd (protagonist of Thayer's first book, Saint Mudd) as he investigates the Lindbergh case. Mudd's excellent analysis of the crime and the beguiling possibilities he raises about its perpetrator are enticing, but just when Mudd's tale gets interesting, readers are jolted back to the present-day events. Yet Thayer manages to pull off his somewhat unwieldy narrative on several fronts. The kidnapper's identity and the links between past and present crimes are real surprises, the laconic dialogue has a true Midwestern flavor and the atmospheric details of Twin Cities weather and landscape are rendered with biting clarity. True thriller fans will probably demand more action and livelier pacing, but history buffs will be intrigued. (Aug.)