The Last Winter of Dani Lancing by PD Viner

the last winter of dani lancingSkilfully written and intriguing…

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Twenty years on from the rape and murder of Dani Lancing, the people who loved her are still suffering the profound after-effects. Jim, the father to whom she was so close, has retreated into a fantasy world where his closest companion is Dani’s ghost – whether real or a product of Jim’s grief is left very much to the reader to decide. Tom had loved Dani since they were children and has devoted his career in the police to trying to bring to justice men who murder women. But Dani’s mother wants revenge and has spent the intervening years trying to find out who killed her daughter. Now with advances in forensic science, the case is about to be reopened…

This is a skilfully written and intriguing crime novel and it undoubtedly held my interest throughout. The characterisation of all the main players is very strong and the author gives a credible portrayal of how grief has affected them differently. Dani is a complex character – we see her through Jim’s eyes as the perfect golden child, but we also gradually get to know the other darker side of her life through flashbacks and from other people’s accounts of her. The story looks fairly straightforward in the beginning but becomes increasingly complex as Viner introduces twists and turns along the way.

PD Viner
PD Viner

I’ve seen some hugely enthusiastic reviews of this book and to a large extent I agree with them. However I found some aspects of the story stretched my credulity too far, particularly towards the end, and my initial belief in and empathy for the characters became increasingly hard to maintain. Also we are frequently given a sudden new piece of information that changes everything only to find that the characters already knew about it – only the reader was being kept in the dark, which made it feel as if Viner wasn’t playing fair with his audience. The tone seemed somewhat strange too – the first half of the book is filled with pretty much unrelieved sorrow and grief and then as the story begins to unfurl, Viner introduces some frankly comedic elements. I admit that made it a more enjoyable read but the contrast felt awkward in places and the initial sense of realism suffered a bit.

A well and cleverly written book and an enjoyable read overall, though, that will certainly encourage me to look out for the author’s future work. Recommended.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Crown Publishing.

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21 thoughts on “The Last Winter of Dani Lancing by PD Viner

  1. FictionFan – Thanks for the fine (as ever!) review. I have to say I’m not one for that strategy of not letting the reader in on knowledge. It can work, but I’ve not seen it done well very often. Still, this one sounds like a good ‘un.


    • Overall, it is a good read, but keeping the reader in the dark about something the characters know annoyed me, especially since it happened more than once. But I’ll certainly be interested to read more of his work in future.


  2. Given that I’m more used to the theatre, which so often works on the principle that the audience knows everything whereas the characters are in the dark, I’m not sure that I would get on very well with this. Possibly a good thing, I really don’t need another crime writer in my life at the moment. I’m having enough difficulty keeping up with the ones I’ve got already.


  3. From looking at the fellow, it seems as if he can’t make up his mind between comedy or sorrow either. Definitely a problem he suffers with, I think.

    Seems like an interesting book. I like how the father retreats into his own fantasy world. A bit eerie, perhaps?

    I see you’re reading S&S. Really can’t wait for the review.


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