“Gazing out the cabin window at the raging blizzard, fear suddenly floods through her as she feels a stranger’s hand clamp across her mouth. No one can hear her stifled screams as she is dragged from the couch by the fire out into the snow.”
When seventeen-year-old Savannah Devenish vanishes from her family’s remote vacation cabin in Minnesota, FBI Agent Tori Hunter races along treacherous icy roads to be first on the scene. Savannah’s parents are frantic with worry for their beautiful, carefree girl. Haunted by memories of her own missing sister, Tori vows to do whatever it takes to reunite this family.
When the police uncover that Savannah’s father Jacob was having an affair, they suspect his involvement, but Tori is convinced his despair is genuine. Her close relationship with the chief detective means the team won’t listen, so Tori strikes off alone, persuading Savannah’s distraught best friends to share their secrets. It seems this ‘good girl’ was sneaking out to parties to meet up with a mysterious man…
Then another teenager is snatched from the street, snowy footprints and a discarded hot chocolate cup the last trace of her. The girls are the same age, strikingly pale and blonde. Is a twisted collector stealing them away? And what chance is there that they are being kept alive?
With a deadly snowstorm closing in, Tori battles the elements—and her own team—as she follows the trail to an abandoned cabin by a frozen lake. In the basement are bedrooms filled with clothes for teenage girls. Tori was too late to save her own missing sister twenty years ago, but can she find these girls before they disappear forever?
I am delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for The Winter Girls by Roger Stelljes, the second book in the Tori Hunter series. My thanks to Noelle Holten at Bookouture for inviting me to take part in the tour and for providing me with a digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.
This is a new series to me and I have to say I have become addicted almost immediately to these characters and to Roger’s writing and I can’t wait to go back and read the first book. I was gripped by this book from start to finish, the tension just ramped up and up throughout the novel, it gives you everything you could possibly want from this type of crime thriller.
The book begins with a shocking opening as a young woman is snatched from her family’s weekend home under brutal circumstances.The investigation initially leads the detectives in one direction, but it is soon clear that certain facts have been hidden by the victim’s father, which leads to alternative threads of enquiry being opened up. The premise behind the plot is fresh and unique and not something I have seen explored in this type of book before, so my interest was piqued very early on and held me throughout the book and, as the tension grew, I became more and more desperate to find out what was going to happen, until the ending blew me away, The book is extremely well-plotted in this regard.
The story is told through a variety of voices which all bring a different perspective to the story. We have the victim, the perpetrators and Tori on the investigative team. The fact that we know early on who committed the crime could be fatal to the tension, but it isn’t here because it is the WHY less than the WHO that is driving the narrative, which again makes the book a little different and more interesting to anyone who reads this type of book regularly. The author does a great job of separating the voices of the different characters into distinct personalities.
This book also has a real sense of place, as we explore the frigid, snowbound landscape of northern Minnesota, its remote lakes and isolated places in the hunt for the missing girl. I could sense the vastness and loneliness of the place and the helplessness of anyone held far from civilisation against their will, what and impossible task the investigators have in trying to track people down in this huge expanse of nothingness in harsh weather conditions. It is a great skill to draw a place so vividly, and the author has it. The cover of the book portrays it brilliantly, I just love it, it was what initially drew me to the book.
The relationship between Tori and Braddock is one of the highlights of the book, and it is fascinating to see it develop. Tori’s ongoing issues, and the new life she is trying to build in northern Minnesota, recovering from the events of the first book. The whole situation feels very authentic, and illustrates the humanity of the people behind the investigation and the personal passions that drive them to do what they do. I think this is one of the main things that makes the book so compelling and makes me want to read more about these characters that I have grown so fond of via Roger’s writing.
If I had one small niggle, it would be that the first chapter of the book which recapped the back story of Tori and Braddock and how she ended up where she did felt a little disjointed and didn’t flow well. If I had been a different type of reader, more impatient, it might have put me off reading any further because it felt so clunky. However, it is well worth persevering past this small portion of the book, because it gets very good very quickly and settles down into a good and smooth flow that carries you through the narrative. If you encounter this same issue, please don’t let it stop you reading on through the book, it is well worth it.
A great crime thriller with interesting characters that I hope will be the start of a series that I can immerse myself in at regular intervals. Highly recommended.
The Winter Girls is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.
Please do follow the tour and take a look at the other blogs taking part for alternative reviews and content:
About the Author
Roger Stelljes is the acclaimed New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of pulse-pounding murder mystery and suspense novels, including the Tori Hunter and McRyan Mystery Series. Roger’s crime thrillers are noted for their fast-paced, yet intricate plots filled with layered and complex characters.
Roger started his first novel in July 2002 while on vacation in Minnesota’s Brainerd Lakes area and has been writing ever since. His debut book, The St. Paul Conspiracy, was nominated in genre fiction for the Minnesota Book Awards along with finalists Brian Freeman and William Kent Krueger. With his follow-up, Deadly Stillwater, where Vince Flynn hailed Roger as a “powerful new thriller voice”, he won the Midwest Independent Book Publishers award for commercial fiction.
Born and raised in Minnesota, Roger still lives there with his family. In addition to his work as an author, Roger is a partner in his law firm. Roger is an avid sports enthusiast and enjoys spending time outdoors boating, attending hockey games, and honing his golf game.
Connect with Roger:
Facebook: Roger Stelljes