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.
This is a damn good mainstream novel. Better than anything I have read in years. Strong and gripping from the first page. Better than Amis Jr. or Rushdie.
best-selling author of The Stainless Steel Rat and Bill, The Galactic Hero
With The Cold Road, Rick Wilber really comes into his own as an author of imaginative depth and power. This is 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.
best-selling author of Lost Boy, Lost Girl, and Koko
Cold—the 40 below zero kind of cold you get in rural Minnesota—is a killer in The Cold Road, a hugely metaphoric novel about murder and mayhem by Rick Wilber, a University of South Florida professor of journalism. Wilber ties cold—and heat—to his characters and their motivations so skillfully that the pages of the book set in Minnesota almost seem to be encrusted with ice and snow and those set in the Caribbean drip with humidity.
Melissa, the protagonist of this intriguing first novel, has recently taken up a new job on a tropical island. There is mystery surrounding the man to whom she is romantically attracted, possibly including murder, and back in her original home in Minnesota, her father is also troubled by a series of unresolved killings. As both pressures begin to build, she also discovers that she has a psychic power that might reveal the truth or might bring about her own destruction. Wilber writes with a strong, involving prose style and this feels more like a mainstream novel than a genre work. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one attracts a wider readership, both from fans of the fantastic and those who like mainstream suspense.
If you like Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Peter Straub, you’ll enjoy this hard-to-define thriller.
Rick Wilber’s journalistic mastery shines through in The Cold Road, a wicked thrill ride in its own right, but more a tightly written, compelling journey of discovery. Don’t miss it.
best-selling author of Florida Roadkill and The Stingray Shuffle