Author: Joseph Olshan
Release Date: April 10, 2012
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Literary Mystery
Rating: 4 out of 5
Though Catherine Wilson used to be an acclaimed journalist, she now lives in Vermont and is happy writing a household newspaper column. When she finds a body on her property, Catherine is stunned. When it’s revealed that this young woman may just be the latest victim of a serial killer, Catherine becomes intent on discovering the identity of the murderer.
Cloudland is a literary mystery, in terms of Olshan’s writing style. Olshan’s prose is poetic and lovely. It makes the novel flow smoothly and creates a wonderful backdrop for the storyline. The rough edges of the novel become much less visible because of the writing. Olshan’s descriptions of rural Vermont, where the novel takes place, are vivid and really bring the setting to life for the reader.
But it’s not just the writing style that makes Cloudland a literary mystery. Catherine is an avid reader and lover of literature. Over the course of the novel, she begins to realize that the murders may be linked to classic author Wilkie Collins. I don’t want to go into detail and spoil this fun surprise, but I will say that though it’s a somewhat minor plot point, it’s still delightful for any fan of the classics.
Catherine is a resourceful and determined character, though she isn’t nosy. Unlike in most amateur sleuth-type novels, she’s actually pulled into the investigation by the police. They don’t have much experience with this type of crime, and with her journalist past, they believe Catherine can help them get to the bottom of what’s happening. It’s nice because too often in novels such as this, the main character takes unnecessary risks and is too curious for her own good. Catherine is smart about her involvement and doesn’t let her desire to know get the better of her.
Admittedly, the plot of Cloudland is a bit convoluted, but it still makes for a satisfying read. It’s more successful as a character driven novel about revenge and lust than it is as a mystery novel, but all in all, it’s an interesting novel with beautiful prose to support it.