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Cloudland: Book summary and reviews of Cloudland by Joseph Olshan

Cloudland

A Crime Novel

by Joseph Olshan

Cloudland
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2012
    304 pages
    Genre: Mysteries

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About this book

Book Summary

Once a major reporter for a national newspaper, Catherine Winslow has retreated to the Upper Valley of Vermont to write a household hints column. While out walking during an early spring thaw, Catherine discovers the body of a woman leaning against an apple tree near her house. From the corpse's pink parka, Winslow recognizes her as the latest victim of a serial killer, a woman reported missing weeks before during a blizzard.

When her neighbor, a forensic psychiatrist, is pulled into the investigation, Catherine begins to discover some unexpected connections to the serial murders. One is that the murders might be based on a rare unfinished Wilkie Collins novel that is missing from her personal library.  The other is her much younger lover from her failed affair has unexpectedly resurfaced and is trying to maneuver his way back into her affections.

Elegant, haunting and profoundly gripping, Cloudland is an ingenious psychological trap baited with murder, deception and the intricacies of desire.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"In this refreshingly cliché-free serial killer tale, Olshan tries his hand with a female narrator/heroine, whom he handles just as deftly as his sensitive male heroes." - Kirkus Reviews

"Unlike the more common, adrenaline-fueled serial-killer thrillers, this is literary, character-driven fiction with remarkable empathy not only for those whom murder leaves behind but also for the perpetrator. Another fine performance from a critically acclaimed author." - Booklist

"Olshan (The Conversion), known for his literary fiction, delivers a crime novel more likely to satisfy mainstream than genre readers." - Publishers Weekly

"Cloudland is a beautiful and original novel. Murder, darkness and snow – we immediately felt at home. The depth is painted with precise brushstrokes. The language is as light as snowflakes swirling across a frozen field. The characters are alive, constantly interesting and very cleverly drawn. The murder mystery is deep and intricate. It was genuine and moving. As readers, we'd love to linger in this book, but the story forces us forward. This is true quality crime fiction." - Lars Kepler, author of The Hypnotist

"In Cloudland, Joseph Olshan has written a truly involving thriller with the bones and brain of a serious work of literature, which gives great depth and resonance to the well-wrought thriller plot. This is so difficult an accomplishment that to my knowledge it has been managed only once before in this century. Cloudland could also be thought of as a tribute to Wilkie Collins, as much one of Olshan's grandfathers as he is of mine. It's a lovely knockout, this book." - Peter Straub, author of Ghost Story and A Dark Matter

"A thriller in the widest sense of the word - where not only does the reader wonder what happens next, they wonder why it will happen. Written in consistently elegant prose, with memorable psychological acuity, Cloudland is both exciting and compelling and will keep readers turning pages energetically." - John Katzenbach, author of The Wrong Man

"Cloudland is Joseph Olshan's best work since Clara's Heart, a novel of high suspense that's written in prose as lyrical as The Lovely Bones." - Author Steven Gaines

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Reader Reviews

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Sandy P. (Gainesville, FL)

Enjoyable read
For me this book was very entertaining and had just the right amount of characters. I don't like having to maintain a roster. The story moved quickly with enough possible twists to keep it interesting. Kept you guessing between several possible murder suspects. Ending was well structured with good detail as to what motivated the murderer and led up to the emotional break. Worth the time. Only once or twice did I start to think "Let's wrap this up". All this AND a pot bellied pig....what more could you ask for.

Jim S. (Austin, TX)

Cloudland
Catherine Winslow is a multifaceted character who early on discovers the body of a woman near her property in Vermont which turns out to be the latest of several murders of women all having similar characteristics - strangulation, assault. Catherine and her friend Anthony, a psychiatrist, along with the unlikable detective, Marco Prozzo, team up to attempt to discover the killer. Catherine's daughter, who almost died of anorexia following the death of Catherine's ex-husband who died of cancer at her home, is in a relationship with an attractive older woman.

Matthew is the younger mid-20s man who Catherine (age ~42) had an affair with and who is a suspect in the murders. He persists in wanting to pursue their relationship.

The story was somewhat slow at points but the ending was good making the slow reading worth the read. I enjoyed it.

Joy N. (Gilbert, AZ)

Cloudland by Joseph Olshan
I loved this book. I really liked all of the characters. I liked the pacing especially the last few chapters. It would be a good book club pick because of all the different characters involved and the situations they find themselves in. I really enjoy stories that I don't see the ending coming. It was a great light read.

Elizabeth K. (Dallas, TX)

Cloudland - Mysterious Until the Very End
I really enjoyed this book. The main character was likeable but far from perfect - she felt like a real person, someone I might know - a woman whose choices were not always the best. She's surrounded by a multitude of plausible suspects, multidimensional people, which kept the story suspenseful. I wasn't sure until almost the very end who the "bad guy" really was. I like stories that have values, like this one, but that still acknowledge the shades of gray that we live with - everything isn't black and white. I liked this book well enough that I'm going to read others by this author. I think you'll enjoy his storytelling, the clarity with which he uses language, and his believable characters.

Kathleen S. (St Louis, MO)

It Had Me at Chapter One
This book starts out immediately with the discovery of a dead body in an orchard and quickly moves from there. Interesting details are shared about Vermont and its local inhabitants and history. Cloudland is a totally engrossing work that kept me hooked from the beginning.

There is an interesting tie-in to the works of 19th century writer, Wilkie Collins. I thought this was a novel twist and has piqued my interest in reading works by Collins, in the public domain, and free on eReaders.

Cloudland is a novel about insanity, revenge and unrequited love. It is gripping and well written with enough red herrings to entertain the reader.
This book would be suitable for Mystery Book Clubs.

Patricia H. (Norman, OK)

Cloudland is anything but a place of safety
Most crime fiction, which is a favorite genre of mine, usually finds the main character in the role of PI or Police detective but not this one. The main character just happens to find the body and becomes a central figure in the investigation without intending to. The book is very well written and has an intriguing plot. The story was so compelling that dinner was over an hour late because I had to finish it without stopping. Good Job Mr. Olshan!

...28 more reader reviews

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Joseph Olshan is the award-winning author of nine novels. His broad-ranging subjects vary from the wise, tough-minded, hilarious Clara Mayfield who became the model of the film character based on his novel, Clara's Heart, to an aristocratic, politically savvy Italian novelist who lives in a villa in Tuscany (The Conversion). Cloudland is based on a true crime story: the serial murders of 6 women that occurred in the Connecticut River valley of Vermont and New Hampshire, crimes that were never solved. His writing has been translated into sixteen languages. He lives between Vermont and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Visit him at josepholshan.com.

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