Something very bad happened to Dani Lancing.
Twenty years later, her father is still trying to get her to talk.
Her best friend has become a detective, the last hope of all the lost girls.
And her mother is about to become a killer.
A hauntingly original debut that will stay with you long after the last page.
When I first picked up this novel I have to admit that I did take a look at the cover and contemplated whether or not I was going to read it. I’m not a huge fan of the art work for the hardcover issue; the paperback edition – to be released in 2014 – is so much more inviting and I love that cover! Needless to say I did give it a go an here are my thoughts!
The Last Winter of Dani Lancing for me is an incredibly interesting book. I struggled early on to make any sense of the story. Multiple time shifts, multiple angles and a storyline that made absolutely no sense to me, I just couldn’t work it out! Normally if I’ve not been able to make any inroads into a story once I’ve read the first fifty pages then I give up – harsh I know – and on more than one occasion I was sorely tempted to do just that with this book. I didn’t. There was something about this book that kept me interested. I persevered and now that I’ve finished the book I’m so glad I didn’t give up on Dani Lancing, in more ways than one.
There’s no doubt that PD Viner is a talented author. Despite my initial reservations I slowly began to understand where he was coming from and what he was trying to achieve. One minute I was in 2010, the next in the early 80’s and then back again all told from various viewpoints. There’s the inevitable moment when you suddenly realise what is happening – a eureka moment – and what has happened to Dani. It’s at this point it all starts to make sense! Just like watching Mr Benn walking into the fancy dress clothes shop on 52 Festive Road. You turn a page and as if by magic you unlock a dark hidden secret that leads you on the correct path to enlightenment. Don’t get too comfortable however; PD Viner will force you to rethink further down the line with a number of shocking and unexpected moments and compulsory red herrings. Talk about keeping you on your toes! I was exhausted by the end – a good exhausted!
The highlight of the entire book for me was the relationship between father and daughter. It took me through a range of emotions and is a veritable rollercoaster of a ride. A father torn by grief he clings on to the smallest memory taking one day at a time. On occasions he is strong but on the flip side he is so reliant on his daughter for strength, to make it through, hour by hour, minute by minute. I loved Dani’s viewpoint, her character and personality – so very well written. I never tired of the pair and as the book develops so does the relationship. It starts of slowly but builds into a wonderful crescendo of emotion. The couple are well suited and although both powerful characters their combined strength is what sold the book for me.
The hospital itself was pulled down years ago and is now a supermarket. She went in there once. Worked out that Dani was born in the deli section. It could have been worse; feminine hygiene and incontinence were close by. Patty bought some cold cuts, salami, breaded ham and a baguette. She thought about eating them then and there, but it seemed a little crass.
Characterisation is well thought out. PD Viner has created a motley crew of personalities in this book and they all play their part in an intriguing mystery. A father clinging on to his daughter, a mother hell-bent on revenge, a boyfriend desperate to seek the truth and a ruthless drug dealer who takes advantage of anyone and everything. I loved Franco; I thought he was a superb addition to the story even though we aren’t introduced to him until late in the plot. I would have liked more from him! A powerful man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants.
I often found myself comparing The Last Winter of Dani Lancing to CBS’s The Ghost Whisperer. I just couldn’t get that out of my head! The narrative is strong, haunting and beautiful; I really enjoyed PD Viner’s style.
A wonderful story, a superb debut, this is one book that if you are like me you’ll have to persevere with. Whatever you do stick with it, this is a remarkable book and deserves to be read.
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Ebury Press (Fiction) (12 Sep 2013)