Cold Weather Stories: Tender Death by Annette Meyers

published 1990

[Descriptions from throughout the book]

Smith put magenta eye shadow on her narrow eyelids and accented her almond-shaped eyes with a small upward dark line and finished with black mascara in three layers. Her sure hand with makeup always fascinated Wetzon…

She wore her thick brown hair short and flipped back behind her ears and in each lobe Paloma Picasso silver “Scribbles.”…

She smiled and stood, tall and lean in her gray wool jersey dress and three-inch heels. She towered over Wetzon…

It was bitterly cold. Wetzon pulled the collar of her black alpaca coat up high around her neck and wrapped the leopard-patterned scarf tighter. The big lavender beret slipped down her forehead, almost covering her eyes…

Smith looked gorgeous—tall, thin, wearing a Donna Karan outfit, a black wool jersey draped midcalf skirt, crimson turtleneck, and long black jacket, and high black leather boots….

Smith was statuesque in a scarlet sequined sweater with a deep scoop in front and back and black silk pants. She had a matching scarlet sequined band around her curly dark hair...
She came in and closed the door behind her. She was wearing a taupe silk outfit with a wide brown alligator belt and high-heeled brown leather boots.

commentary: As there is snow on the ground where I am, time for a cold weather story... 

TracyK at Bitter Tea and Mystery reminded me of the existence of this series – she blogged on a different book by Meyers in 2017. I knew I’d read the first book back when it was new, and decided to give the second one a go, nearly 30 years later, and more than a year after Tracy reminded me. (No rush, there’s a lot of books out there).

The books are the Smith and Wetzon series, though Smith is definitely a sidekick, Leslie Wetzon is our heroine, the one whose thoughts we follow throughout. She is a Wall St recruitment specialist, headhunting top financial people, and there was a lot about that in the book: much of it was irrelevant to the murder plot, but I found it fascinating. (Smith is her partner in the business). She gets caught up in the death of a very rich older woman on the Upper East side of New York, and starts trying to find out what is going on – is there something sinister about the carers looking after older people? The world has changed so hugely since 1990 – it screams out that no-one has mobile phones or proper computers, and a lot of the story revolves around answering machines – but the thread about the vulnerabilities of older people is as relevant now as it was then.

The action takes place in a cold wintry New York, at some points disabled by heavy snow, and that whole atmosphere was very well done. Wetzon is a rounded and nice character, but there is something weird about her: she is angry, hugely and futilely angry, about all kinds of different things and all kinds of different people, throughout the book. She doesn’t do much about it, the anger is not usually directly related to the plot, she is just angry. And then it fades away. And then she gets cross about something else. She is meant to be a reasonably-balanced, happy person, so the endless descriptions of her temper were weird and wearing. If I had written a book like that 30 years ago, and read it now, I would be thinking to myself ‘what was I trying to cover up, why was I so angry and not admitting it back then, what was really going on?’ (I feel entitled to do a bit of amateur psychologizing because Meyers also does that annoying thing of telling us Wetzon’s dreams, which we are obviously meant to analyse. I did not. They were boring.)

On the plus side: Meyers always tells us what everyone is wearing and I enjoyed that enormously, and the clothes absolutely shouted 1990 to me. In fact I enjoyed the endless details more perhaps than the crime story, which went on  a touch too long. But I would certainly look out another in the series, and probably not wait another 30 years to read it.

I am glad the books are being re-published, but the cover of this new Kindle edition leaves something to be desired. A key clue in the book is a shoe worn earlier by the victim:
She had matching Gucci walking shoes with the gold stirrups on her tiny feet.
This is the picture on the cover:

I feel a bit like the Reese Witherspoon character in Legally Blonde here, but those are NOT the right shoes. At all. Ballet flats from Target at best. It was only a picture, publishers, you wouldn’t actually have had to buy some Gucci shoes for the cover illustrator to get it right…

Picture of the actual Paloma Picasso Scribble earrings.

The YSL look for 1990 – gorgeous, and very current-looking.

And a collection of outfits of the era, from a fashion magazine.


  1. Thanks for the mention, Moira. Now you are making me want to dig out my other two books in the series that I have... one is this one, and the other is the 7th book. I have read that the fifth book in the series is a good one, about a musical, but I don't have that one. Too many books.

    1. I know. As with so many authors I think 'well I liked that, I would read another...' but I'm not sure I want to read seven. Though a setting at a musical appeals to me too..

  2. Those are great descriptions of clothes, Moira! And I like the setting and context for this one. I know what you mean, though, about the descriptions. Sometimes the effort to let you get to know a character in that way can backfire. At any rate, I'm glad you found some things to like about this one.

    1. Thanks Margot - the clothes were really the tipping point for me, they summoned up such a picture of the era, a timeframe well remembered by me!

  3. Not an author I've previously heard of. She's female so - quelle surprise. Maybe I'll see if I cross paths with something else by her.

    1. Tracy and I have both been enjoying - very 1990s, an aspect that I like and actually you might too - you never know! If you are ever looking for a female author for your stats. Not tucked away in the tubs someplace?


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