Rated of 5
by Deborah D. (Newark, CA) Superficial characters; implausible plot
I wanted to love this book, but found myself putting it down several times before finishing it. Joseph Olshan does set the scenes well. Having been brought up in snow country, I could feel to cold of many winters in his description of Vermont. His prose elevates the book beyond what is expected of the average "pot boiler," however, the plot is thin and rather disjointed. I found the characters superficially drawn and the end to be implausible This was not a page-turner, but a rather cumbersome attempt to rise to the level of a psychological thriller.
Rated of 5
by Therese X. (Calera, AL) Cloudland becomes a dangerous place
Narrator Catherine Winslow, former journalist and adjunct professor, now writes a Household Hints column, after testing suggestions from her readers. She lives alone with her two dogs and a 250 pound potbellied pig named Henrietta, in Cloudland, New England, where only three other people live nearby. On a trek through the snow one day in March, she sees a woman lying against a tree, dead. Stabbed. The crisp, winter countryside of Cloudland now held a brutal secret: a serial killer has returned to the area. The dead woman, Angela Parker, was found in an apple orchard, with religious tracts in her pockets although her husband claimed she was an atheist. Previous murders had had the same style of slaughter: women, stabbed after being strangled, killed near a fallen tree, tracts from the Seventh Day Adventists in their pockets.
This reminds Catherine of an unfinished novel of one of her favorite writers, Wilkie Collins--The Widower's Branch-- which sends her on her own trail of inquiry. When the news breaks that Catherine found the body, she worries someone might find her in the sparsely populated area. Yet, she has faced other fears in her life. Her involvement with a former student Matthew Blake in her professor days, resulted in her job loss and a violent breakup after the obsessed Michael who could not face losing Catherine, placed his hands around her neck, nearly strangling her. She did not report it; she loved him. He then left the country. Her current volunteer work teaching writing to prisoners shows her the violent side of youthful humanity, but she seems to take it all in stride.
Accepting possibly dangerous people keeps the reader wondering how brave she really is. Catherine is a strong character in some ways, as when she wants to inject her own theories and findings into the investigation, but heedless of any danger when her former lover returns to Cloudland and becomes a possible murder suspect. The reader may want to like Catherine, but some of her actions seem a bit naive considering her previous experiences. As the State police investigate possible suspects, a new murder occurs, with a different style. Tension rises, suspects change, and eventually the killer is unmasked after a deathless encounter.
This is an engaging mystery novel. Interesting characters and amusing household hints make this a good read for a nice, long weekend. Pulling the readers’ emotions back and forth with lyrical writing interspersed with brutal descriptions of life and even of nature keep the reader trying to balance emotions as if on a rocky boat anchored in the harbor.
Rated of 5
by Judy G. (Carmel, IN) Cloudy Read
I agree with the comments several other readers have made that rated this a 3 read. It was disjointed, not a page-turner, confusing, slow paced and a book I had to struggle to finish. Clearly not a book for all of the "psychological thriller" fans out there. My rating is 2.75 overall.
Rated of 5
by Stacey B. (Lancaster, PA) Rural New England crime novel
Cloudland was an enjoyable pleasure read. Labeled a “crime novel,” its plot is a bit light on gore and heart-racing scenes to be considered a true thriller, but the literary quality, especially in the area of characterization, is more substantial than many titles in this genre. Author Joseph Olshan’s tale of a New England writer and her ties to a presumed serial killer, did keep me guessing, and therefore, turning pages. The rural Vermont setting is an important element from start to finish and the characters who live near protagonist Catherine Winslow seem just as shaped by their remote, but beautiful physical surroundings as they are by their personal histories. Cloudland is a good pick for readers looking for the kind of intelligent suspense that is still light enough to read on a beach or in a bedroom.
Rated of 5
by Susan S. (Salem, OH) Cloudland
I enjoyed Cloudland very much..Mr. Olshan transported me to a relatively isolated rural Vermont area where a murder victim is discovered as the snow slowly melts with the season change.. I was instantly taken in by the writing style. The main character is Catherine Winslow and she is the person who discovers the body. She lives alone in that rural area. The tension builds as Catherine begins to piece together clues...This psychological thriller will appeal to men and women who enjoy an involved, more literary work.
Rated of 5
by Karen J. (Bremerton, WA) Enjoyable but not memorable.
As a former New Englander, I found the clean uncluttered narrative of Cloudland perfectly matching the rural setting of Vermont in which the serial murders take place. Utilizing a no-frills straightforward narration, the author leads the reader from clue to clue, suspect to suspect until at last the mystery is solved. This is an excellent book to take on a trip – it quickly engages you, easily maintains your interest and if there are distractions it’s no problem picking up where you left off. Perfect reading while waiting for delayed flights at airports. However, although enjoyable, I did not rate this book a 5 as it didn't make my "not to be missed" list.
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