Welcome to Bearkill: “Winter at the Door”

20307068Winter at the Door by Sarah Graves
Bantam: January 6, 2015 (Mystery)

I’d go there again!
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Winter at the Door is the debut of Graves’ Lizzie Snow series, and it was a really good beginning. Bonus points for this also being a pretty well done audiobook.

Lizzie Snow has relocated from Boston to rural Bearkill, Maine in an effort to find her niece who disappeared years ago. After receiving a tip that her niece may be in Maine, Lizzie chucks in her successful career as a homicide detective and moves. However, the Sheriff has some ulterior motives for hiring Lizzie. It seems that someone is killing former cops, only the sheriff can’t prove it. Enter Lizzie Snow.

On top of a new job, a search for her missing niece, and some other mysterious happenings in Bearkill, Lizzie also has to deal with the reappearance of her ex, state cop, Dylan Hudson. These two had a tumultuous break-up and Lizzie’s not pleased to have the guy back in her life – it makes moving on all that much harder. But, Dylan claims to have some information about the location of Lizzie’s niece, so cooperation is needed. At least for now.

As per usual with me, it was the characters rather than the mystery that attracted me to Winter at the Door, as did the comparison to Linda Castillo (another series I recently discovered on audio). Lizzie Snow is a city-girl through-and-through and doesn’t quite fit the mold for small town living with her short dark hair, red lipstick, and fashion sense. In addition to solving the crimes that are occurring in Bearkill, Lizzie also has to contend with the locals who are not always that welcoming, even when Lizzie is essentially doing what they want. Surprisingly Lizzie finds herself adjusting better than expected to the rural life, adopting a dog, rescuing old folks, and resolving bar brawls. It’s not the homicide investigations that she’s used to, but it’s clear to readers that she is getting satisfaction in her job.

What I find interesting about Winter at the Door is that the author left a number of plot threads open ended. It’s not unexpected for this to be the case considering that this is the first in a series; however, I find it interesting that the biggest thread – Lizzie’s missing niece – was not resolved. This was the reason that Lizzie came to Bearkill, which begs the question of what will now hold her to this community? As for the other threads left open, I can’t say that I’m displeased by the romance aspect. The vet or the ex? Hmm, seems Lizzie got some options, but readers are going to have to wait and see how Lizzie navigates the minefield of her relationship with her ex.

All in all, Winter at the Door was great start to the series. The heroine was interesting as was the baggage that she brings along to her new life in Bearkill. This is definitely a series that I will continue to read rather than listen to. For me, the narration of Winter at the Door was just okay. Sometimes the written word just does not translate well to narration and this was the case in Winter at the Door. There are many instances where readers are treated to Lizzie’s thoughts and I didn’t find that this always easy to hear in audio. So, as a book this is a good read, as an audio just okay.

Similar Reads

For another rural mystery series as well as another compelling lady detective, give Linda Castillo’s Kate Burkholder series a try. This was a series I fell in love with on audio (the narrator is great!). While it’s darker are more violent in content, Kate is a really interesting character (she’s ex-Amish). See my rave review of the first book, Sworn to Silence.

Sworn to Silence (Kate Burkholder, #1)

For another lady detective, try Amanda Kyle Williams’ Keye Street series. Set in Atlanta, Georgia, this series follows an ex-FBI profiler turned private investigator. Keye is an interesting character in the fact that she is a recovering alcoholic, which continues to call her credibility into question despite her years sober. It also makes for a good audiobook – gotta love the snarky southern accent. Start with the first book The Stranger You Seek.

The Stranger You Seek (Keye Street #1)

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