Troy Chance is a freelance writer living in Lake Placid, New York, writing mostly pieces about sports for the local paper, where she was once sports editor. As A Cold and Lonely Place opens, Troy is in nearby Saranac Lake, out on Lake Flower, watching the cutting of the ice blocks that will be used in the Ice Palace, the signature structure of Saranac Lake’s annual Winter Carnival. She’s taking pictures and trying not to freeze in the frigid January air when work stops. Troy captures the action with her camera as the workers pull a body from lake.
The body is someone Troy knows, Tobin Winslow, her roommate Jessamyn’s boyfriend. No one had seen Tobin for many weeks and had just assumed he’d skipped town for a while. Lake Placid is like a place where people come and go, many of them athletes. It had been obvious Tobin was a rich boy who had left home to wander.
What begins for Troy as a local story that she doesn’t really want to cover begins to mushroom when she agrees to check over the article another young freelancer writes for the paper. The article is poorly done and full of rumor. Although Troy fixes the article, the original leaks out (and accuses Jessamyn of having something to do with Tobin’s death), and a press frenzy is on.
Troy follows the story like a bloodhound, aware all along she may be looking under rocks left undisturbed. What she finds not only solves the mystery of Tobin’s death but also changes many lives, including her own.
First introduced by author Sara J. Henry in her 2011 debut novel Learning to Swim, Troy Chance is smart, athletic, principled, and lonely, a likable character who is just flawed enough to get in her own way. Henry’s strength is in her plotting; what she has Troy go through is not run-of-the-mill mystery stuff. A Cold and Lonely Place is particularly interesting, with its twists and turns. Henry also captures life in a rural town people with blue-collared locals and ski bums in the Adirondacks in a way that feels real.
A Cold and Lonely Place (originally published in 2012 and released in papers on November 5, 2103), is Henry’s second novel, and while I enjoyed the first (which begins with Troy rescuing a young boy she sees fall overboard into Lake Champlain and takes her to Ottawa, Canada), I liked this one even more. I look forward to seeing what Troy Chance gets up to next.