The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

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people see what they want to see

In Jennifer McMahon’s most recent thriller, something sinister is brewing in the rural hills of West Hall, Vermont.  In the winter of 1908, the body of Sara Harrison Shea is found in a field behind her family’s farmhouse, stripped of its skin the way a hunter would field dress an animal pelt.  But when the authorities arrive, they find Sara’s husband, Martin, grieving over the body of his dead wife.  Just before he took his own life moments later, Martin claimed that the crime was committed by their young daughter, Gertie.  But the young girl has been dead and buried for months, and the authorities cannot make sense of the mysterious circumstance surrounding the deaths of the Sheas.

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A Conversation with Nicole Wolverton

NicoleWolverton_highres_RTNicole Wolverton’s debut novel The Trajectory of Dreams follows a Houston sleep lab specialist named Lela White who has a very dark secret.  Lela is obsessed with the space program, and she spends her nights breaking into the homes of astronauts to observe their sleep patterns.  She is compelled my a mental illness to fulfill what she believes is a duty to NASA, and she’s fully prepared to kill in order to achieve her goals.

But a personal relationship with a Russian astronaut named Zory threatens to destroy her life’s work and pushes Lela further into a mental descent and forces her to make some very disturbing decisions. 

The Trajectory of Dreams is a fast-paced and haunting psychological thriller, and we were lucky enough to interview Nicole Wolverton about her debut novel.  What follows below is a brief (mostly spoiler-free) discussion with Wolverton about her fantastic novel and the inspirations behind her writing:

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Defending Jacob by William Landay

Defending_Jacob ★★★☆☆
Defending Jacob
A Novel by William Landay
2012 / 432 Pages

William Landay’s 2012 crime novel follows Andy Barber, a Massachusetts lawyer, as he and his family are thrust into both legal and social controversy.  When the body of a 14 year-old boy is discovered in a public park, Andy is sure that the killer is a local pedophile, but his world is turned upside down when the evidence starts pointing toward his own son, Jacob, as the killer.

Andy and his wife, Laurie, are completely unprepared for such an accusation and relentlessly insist that their son is innocent.  But as the case unravels and clues surface, Jacob’s innocence becomes more and more questionable.  In spite of the mounting evidence against Jacob, Andy will do anything to protect his teenage son, including destroying evidence and lying.  Laurie, on the other hand, is beginning to wonder how much they really know about Jacob and his life outside of their family.  Told retrospectively from Andy’s point of view, Defending Jacob is a fast-faced thriller, but readers may notice some familiar themes and plot points.

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The Trajectory of Dreams by Nicole Wolverton

The_Trajectory_of_Dreams ★★★★☆
The Trajectory of Dreams
A Novel by Nicole Wolverton
2013 / 285 Pages

Nicole Wolverton’s debut novel follows Lela White, a sleep lab researcher in Houston, Texas.  Lela’s life revolves around sleep, even though she rarely gets any of her own.  That’s because she spends her nights breaking into the homes of astronauts to study their sleep patterns.  She knows it’s illegal, but a mental illness convinces Lela that her obtrusive and creepy research is for the greater good of NASA and the world.  And just to be on the safe side, Lela always has an assassination plan ready just in case one of her subjects wakes to find an intruder hovering over their bed charting snores, twitches, and dream patterns.

Lela has been obsessed with the space program since she was a child, and she’s been studying sleep patterns since childhood as well.  Her first subject was her abusive, mentally unstable mother, who often woke to her daughter’s vacant, staring eyes and responded violently.  Lela’s dad usually kept the peace as much as possible, but one particularly violent incident led to her mother’s disappearance.  Lela has not seen or heard from her mother since she was ten years old, but she has become paranoid that her mother is watching her, and possibly even sending spies to keep track of her.

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