Book Review: The Last Winter of Dani Lancing – P.D. Viner

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing coverTitle: The Last Winter of Dani Lancing
Author: P.D. Viner
ISBN: 9780804136822
Pages: 400
Release Date: October 8, 2013
Publisher: Crown
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Literary Mystery
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

It’s been 20 long years since Dani Lancing was found murdered, a young woman with so much promise. But all these years later, there are three people that still haven’t gotten over Dani’s death. Her father sees Dani’s ghost everywhere, while her mother has moved from anger to acceptance to being set on revenge. Dani’s sweetheart, Tom, has made a career out of hunting the twisted minds that hurt young girls, a sort of penance for not being able to save Dani. But when new evidence comes to light that may expose Dani’s killer, it affects these three in ways no one could have imagined.

Bloggers Recommend October Blurb:

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing by P. D. Viner (October 8, Crown) Dani was murdered 20 years ago, but she’s still at the center of three lives: that of her father, her mother, and the man who loves her. This complex literary mystery keeps readers guessing, as the narrative moves back and forward through time at an almost capricious pace, presenting a full, if devastating, picture of Dani’s death and its aftermath. —Swapna Krishna

Full Review:

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing is a gorgeously written literary mystery about the death of one young girl, and how its repercussions have lasted a lifetime. The novel starts in the present day, but begins to jump back and forth through time quickly. At first, the speed and number of the flashbacks seems disorienting; just as readers are beginning to get a grasp on events, things seem ripped away from them, only to have to start anew. These jumps seem whimsical, almost capricious, with no rhyme or reason, but slowly, the narrative begins to come together. This is a novel that takes some patience at the beginning, but if you stick with it, you’ll begin to see the brilliance of Viner’s storytelling.

Viner takes time to flesh out the character of Dani, even though she’s been gone for quite awhile when the novel begins. Indeed, the focus of The Last Winter of Dani Lancing is those who Dani has left behind, the unfortunate souls who haven’t been able to make sense of what’s left of their lives. With the revelation of the possibility of DNA testing for Dani’s Killer, each is spurred onto a new path that inexorably will lead them to discover Dani’s true fate.

Readers will particularly sympathize with Tom, who has spent his life trying to make up for losing Dani. He has sanctified Dani in his mind, cleansing her of any sins and putting her on a pedestal that no living, flesh and blood woman could attain. It’s so interesting to see how these characters act in Dani’s memory, especially when their remembrances of her are juxtaposed against flashbacks of Dani herself. That’s not to say she was a bad person, just that it’s interesting to see how grief can cloud memory and people choose to remember the dead the way they want to, rather than the way things actually were.

Both thought provoking and well written, The Last Winter of Dani Lancing is a novel that fans of psychological thrillers and literary mysteries should absolutely consider. It has fully realized, flawed characters whose motives readers will want to dissect. As Dani’s true story slowly unfolds, readers will be captivated by the honest portrayal of grief and loneliness that is weaved through the pages of this novel.

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