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The Last Winter of Dani Lancing    by P. D. Viner order for
Last Winter of Dani Lancing
by P. D. Viner
Order:  USA  Can
Crown, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

P. D. Viner's The Last Winter of Dani Lancing is an extraordinary debut thriller that made me think of a darker Lovely Bones. At the center of each novel is the shocking death of a young girl, well before her time, and her ghost is very present in both stories. But, where Viner's take diverges is in the nature of the tragedy itself and in the unintended consequences that ricochet out from the actions of the girl's grieving loved ones to damage many other lives.

The story alternates between the present day and the awful event twenty years before when lovely young college student Dani Lancing was kidnapped and brutally murdered. Three people close to her have never got over it. Her gentle father, Jim Dancing, lives with her ghost, and longs for the wife who left him after the tragedy. Her mother Patty was once a very talented journalist. Her obsession with her daughter's death has led her down a dark path. Dani's best friend and childhood sweetheart, Tom Bevans (the Sad Man to his colleagues) is now a Detective Superintendent who heads a special unit that 'investigates sexually aggravated murders'.

The story opens on Patty cutting Duncan Cobhurn, the monster she believes killed her daughter - she intends to have his DNA compared with trace evidence found at the scene. Having recently learned that cold cases are being reviewed and modern techniques increase the chances of making an id, Patty hired Marcus Keyson, a renowned forensics investigator, to help her finally track down her daughter's killer. As all these players act out their parts in this Greek tragedy, it becomes clear that a puppeteer is pulling strings. But who and why? Gradually, the reader's initial perception of events is turned upside down - nothing is what it seems to be and no-one is innocent.

Don't miss this riveting, highly recommended thriller! It will haunt you.

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