Jenny Milchman lives in New Jersey with her family. Cover of Snow is her first novel.
Country of final manufacture:
Excerpt from book:
Milchman / COVER OF SNOW
My husband wasn’t in bed with me when I woke up that January morning. The mid-winter sky was bruised purple and yellow outside the window. I shut bleary eyes against light that glared and pounded.
A second later I realized my toes weren’t burrowing into the hollows behind Brendan’s knees, that when I flung out my arm it didn’t meet his wiry chest, the stony muscles gone slack with sleep. I slid my hand toward the night table, fingers scrabbling around for our alarm clock.
It was late. As if drugged, my brain was making sense of things only after a dull delay. But it was a full hour past the time I always woke up. We always woke up. Brendan slept a cop’s sleep, perpetually ready to take action, and I had been an early riser all my thirty-five years.
Bits of things began to take shape in my mind.
The morning light, which entered so stridently through the window.
Brendan not in bed with me. He must’ve gotten up already. I hadn’t even felt him move.
But Brendan had been working late all week; I hadn’t yet found out why. My husband had good reason to sleep in. And if he had risen on time, why didn’t he wake me?
I felt a squeezing in my belly. Brendan knew I had an eight o’clock meeting with a new client this morning, the owner of a lovely but ramshackle old saltbox in need of repair. My husband took my burgeoning business as seriously as I did. He would never let me miss a meeting.
On the other hand, Brendan would know that if I slept late, then I must be worn out. Maybe getting Phoenix off the ground had taken more out of me than I realized. Brendan probably figured he’d give me a few extra minutes, and the morning just got away from him.
He must be somewhere in his normal routine now, toweling off, or fixing coffee.
Except I didn’t hear the shower dripping. Or smell the telltale, welcome scent of my morning fix.
I pushed myself out of bed with hands that felt stiff and clumsy, as if I were wearing mittens. What was wrong with me? I caught a glimpse of my face in the mirror and noticed puddles of lavender under my eyes. It was like I hadn’t slept a wink, instead of an extra hour.
“Brendan? Honey? You up?”
My words shattered the air, and I realized how very still our old farmhouse was this morning.
Padding toward the bathroom, one explanation for the weight in my muscles, not to mention my stuporous sleep, occurred to me.
Brendan and I had made love last night.
It had been one of the good times; me lying back afterward, hollow, cored out, the way I got when Brendan was able to focus completely on me, on us, instead of moving so fiercely that he seemed to be riding off to some distant place in the past. We’d even lain awake for a while in the waning moments before sleep, fingers intertwined, Brendan studying me in a way that I felt more than saw in the dark.
“Honey? Last night tired me out, I guess. Not that it wasn’t worth it.”
I felt a smile tease the corners of my mouth, and pushed open the bathroom door, expecting a billow of steam. When only brittle air emerged, I felt that grabbing in my gut again. Cold tile bit my bare feet.
My husband never started the day without a shower; he claimed that a night’s sleep made him ache. But there was no residue of moisture filming the mirror, nor fragrance of soap in the air. I grabbed a towel, wrapped it around my shoulders for warmth, and trotted toward the stairs, calling out his name.
Praise for Cover of Snow
“Well-defined characters take us on an emotional roller-coaster ride through the darkest night, with blinding twists and occasionally fatal turns. This is a richly woven story that not only looks at the devastating effects of suicide but also examines life in a small town and explores the complexity of marriage. Fans of Nancy Pickard, Margaret Maron, and C. J. Box will be delighted to find this new author.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Milchman reveals an intimate knowledge of the psychology of grief, along with a painterly gift for converting frozen feelings into scenes of a forbidding winter landscape.”—The New York Times
“Milchman makes [readers] feel the chill right down to their bones and casts a particularly effective mood in this stylish thriller.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Milchman tackles small-town angst where evil can simmer under the surface with a breathless energy and a feel for realistic characters.”—The Seattle Times
“The plot unfolds at an excellent clip . . . ultimately rushing headlong to a series of startling revelations.”—San Francisco Journal of Books
“Milchman expertly conveys Nora’s grief in a way that will warm hearts even in the dead of a Wedeskyull winter.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Everything a great suspense novel should be—tense, emotional, mysterious, and satisfying . . . Let’s hope this is the start of a long career.”—Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Wanted Man
“Cover of Snow is a darkly atmospheric first novel that challenges all sorts of romantic notions we might harbor about small towns and the people we think we can trust. Luckily, heroine Nora Hamilton—and writer Jenny Milchman—have the skill and fortitude to lead readers through a suspenseful story of switchbacks and surprises. A mystery that will draw in fans of darker fare as well, Cover of Snow is reminiscent of Margaret Maron’s work, which is about the highest praise I can bestow.”—Laura Lippman, New York Times bestselling author of And When She Was Good
“A terrific debut.”—Harlan Coben, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Seconds Away
From the Hardcover edition.