Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka
Girl in Snow is a literary murder mystery from a debut novelist that is darkly atmospheric. Set in a sleepy Colorado suburb, fifteen-year-old Lucinda Haye’s body is found on a playground carousel, covered in snow. She has been brutally murdered, and the police begin to investigate.
For officer Russ Fletcher, this is a case he’d rather not have. He prefers traffic patrol to the serious cases, and he’d rather have an uneventful shift and then return home to his quiet wife Ines and their stable, uneventful life. But the main suspect, Cameron Whitley, is his ex-partner's son, a boy he had promised to look after when his fellow officer left town in disgrace years earlier.
Cameron has stalked Lucinda for more than a year. An oddball kid, he loved Lucinda and spent hours silently watching her through her bedroom window. From hours of observation, Cameron feels he knows Lucinda – a beautiful, bright, popular girl. But Cameron’s behaviour becomes even more erratic after her death, leaving the town to suspect he is not just a harmless teenager with a crush, but a killer. Meanwhile, Jade, another classmate, hates Lucinda and blames her for everything Lucinda has taken away from her in blissful ignorance.
This is a very insular book, with the chapters moving from the point of view of Cameron, Jade and Russ – all of whom are unusual, oddball characters, uncomfortable in their skin and their lives. Girl in Snow certainly delivers a novel that is suspenseful, and it explores themes of love and obsession very successfully. The three central characters are well-drawn, and their stories are full of twists and surprises, slowly revealing their strengths and vulnerabilities. By contrast, Lucinda remains an enigma – she is a shiny, bright teenager who we never really get to know, and we certainly don’t get to understand the choices she made that led to her tragic death. Girl in Snow is a carefully crafted book, and with each sentence, you can see the meticulous care and attention. This is a very impressive debut.