cover image Cold Cold Heart

Cold Cold Heart

Tami Hoag, read by Julia Whelan. Brilliance Audio, , unabridged, 10 CDs, 12.5 hrs., $39.99 ISBN 978-1-4805-9884-3

Dana Nolan, Hoag’s newest protagonist (after 2013’s The 9th Girl), may qualify as the ultimate woman in jeopardy. In just the prologue, the former television reporter manages to subdue a sadistic serial rapist and murderer who has put her through a horrific period of torture. The book begins with her leaving the hospital, still scarred mentally and physically, to seek further therapy in the presumably more comfortable Indiana home of her mother and stepfather. Instead of quiet recovery, her well-publicized arrival activates a local cold case—the disappearance of her high school BFF, Casey Grant. Reader Whelan’s narration is soft and whispery, establishing an atmosphere of both intimacy and impending danger as Dana, suffering from a brain injury, struggles to remember any details surrounding Casey’s sudden vanishing that might help. In giving voice to the protagonist, Whelan begins with a credible halting stutter combined with yelps of frustration. Then, as Dana’s therapy kicks in, her speech settles into an infrequently halting, more normal pattern marked by moments of self-doubt and fear. The other characters are equally well served: Dana’s overprotective mother sounds effusively caring and nervously high-strung, her step- father cold and aloof. Whelan lowers her voice effectively for the novel’s other male characters, including Dana’s high school boyfriend, Tim Carver, now the town’s deputy sheriff, who seems understanding but patronizing, and Casey’s ex-boyfriend, John Villante, a gruff, stoic loner, who is quick to anger and was once suspected of murder. [em]A Dutton hardcover. (Jan.) [/em]