The Cold Road

Cold ... cold is all Melissa O’Malley feels, growing up in the frigid expanses of rural Minnesota. The one thing keeping her warm is the obeah talent she has inherited from her island mother, who mysteriously left when Melissa was only five. Bright, beautiful, athletic, and extremely talented, Melissa is raised by her father, Melchior, and discovers her obeah when her father brings home a deer carcass. Upon touching the deer, Melissa, in a moment of electric clarity, experiences the deer's final moments before death.

Melissa’s childhood has been happy. She excels in basketball as a teen, earning a chance to play basketball at the University of Minnesota. She also falls in love with Danny Finnegan, son of her dad’s friend, a local police detective. She and Danny dream of life together after she finishes college and he completes a stint in the Navy. Everything seems perfect until the news of Danny’s combat death shocks the town. At Danny’s funeral a last touch from Melissa shows her and Detective Finnegan Danny’s final moments before his death. With nothing more holding her back, Melissa is drawn to the south, to college in Florida, where she’ll follow her bliss.

Florida is everything Melissa dreams of—a warm, tropical home that slowly thaws the ice around her soul. She continues playing basketball and meets handsome, charming Bo Palmer. After graduation, Melissa becomes PR director of the Palmers’ resort on the beautiful island of Saint Kitts. But local newsman Stanley Edwards tells her of dark secrets that threaten the resort. Stanley’s father disappeared many years ago, and shortly thereafter the Palmers’ resort became a success. Both Stanley and his mother, Miriam, an obeah woman who recognizes Melissa’s talent, fear for Melissa even as they think she could help uncover the truth behind their tragedy.

As Melissa settles into her new home, she is drawn back north by her father’s news that someone is brutally killing women and their daughters in Minnesota. Detective Dan Finnegan and her father are stumped, and Dan knows Melissa’s talent might unlock the key to the crimes. Torn by conflicting feelings—for Bo, for Stanley, and for her home in Minnesota, Melissa wants to help. But when she learns to trust her own instincts, will she survive her discovery of the horrible truth behind the deaths that shadow the past and threaten her future?

This taut thriller goes to extremes, and its sizzling narrative excitement never lets up.

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Horror for adults, horror that exists beyond category and offers all the richness of character, subtlety of nuance, and devotion to storytelling that good readers always look for but all too seldom find.

Peter Straub

best-selling author