In less than ten minutes Mark found himself prancing through the snow with two small girls… They liked Mark and he liked them. It was good to feel their icy little mittens tucking in his hand…
There were old brooms and shovels littering the ground and several wrecks of snowmen standing about; headless dwarfs, no taller than their waddling creator. Mark made derisive comments and offered to build another. When he produced straws from one of the brooms and told Ivy they were eyelashes, he reached the stature of a god. Anne left her snowballing and joined them…
“I’m going to find some bits of coal for buttons. We saw one in Bear River with buttons.”…
Laura Morey was running toward them, hatless and without a coat. Her dull red dress was like a stain on the winter landscape. She must have fallen, for it was caked with snow.
And that’s true even when you have the solution. This is a highly enjoyable book, and as a detective story fan I am always willing to suspend my belief for a good narrative – but I would defy any reader to have worked out any part of the plot that is finally revealed. Lawrence creates a splendid atmosphere of tension, some great characters, and a supremely exciting climax, involving the entire cast - those who have survived, that is - in the library, the snow outside the French windows, and a mysterious light, followed by attacks and chases. The subsequent ten pages of explanation – well it IS a good plot, but there has really been a complete lack of any clues and setup. But still, I enjoyed the book, it was amusing and entertaining and had some very nice touches. And the snowman was great.
The black and white photo is from the Center for Jewish History in New York.
'Something dramatic coming in through the French windows' also happens in Gladys Mitchell's Watson's Choice, a recent entry.
Sergio, over at Tipping My Fedora, reminded me of this book - he showed this cover, which looks like the Ladybird/Enid Blyton Big Book of Snow Games rather than a murder story.
My copy has this one - better.
Designers were plainly torn whether to include the snowman or not: with snowman it looks a bit jaunty, but without one it looks tense but generic: