Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

By Ekta R. Garg

September 27, 2017

Genre: Mystery/thriller

Release date: August 1, 2017

Rated: Bypass it / 2 stars

When a teen is found murdered, members from a small community must deal with the list of possible suspects that include an obsessed classmate and a jealous ex-friend. As the community reels from the event, the officer on the case will need to move past his own issues if he wants to find out who killed the girl. Author Danya Kukafka tries to examine small-town happenings in a novel with an excruciatingly slow pace in the debut book Girl in Snow.

On a February morning in a small Colorado town, someone discovers the body of Lucinda Hayes. A killer has left her on the playground carousel by an elementary school. As word of her murder spreads, the people in the community react with expected horror and grief.

For Cameron Whitley, though, Lucinda’s death feels like a personal affront. He’s never really fit in at school; people have called him names that run the gamut, all because he’s not quite sure what to say and when to say it. But Lucinda showed him kindness a few times, and he loved her. He still loves her, and losing her becomes akin to losing part of himself.

Jade Dixon-Burns allows herself a sense of relief. Serves Lucinda right, she thinks. Jade needed the babysitting job that she and Lucinda shared and that eventually went exclusively to Lucinda. The dead girl had everything, including a perfect family. People who, instead of getting drunk and hitting their kids, actually cared about her.

What’s worse, Lucinda also stole Jade’s best friend. Jade never told Zap how she felt about him, but she always thought she’d have the chance…until the day she spied on Lucinda and Zap together. Jade and Zap had a moment once that could have potentially turned into something else, until Lucinda came along.

Officer Russ Fletcher had the distinct honor of being Lee Whitley’s partner, long before Lee got into trouble himself. Russ and Lee formed a friendship that went beyond the squad car. When Lee commits a crime and ends up leaving town, he makes sure to stop long enough to ask Russ to take care of Cameron.

Now that Cameron is a prime suspect in Lucinda’s murder, Russ is at odds with himself. Everything in the case points to Cameron, but Russ is a good friend. He’ll have to find a way to resolve what the facts indicate with what his gut tells him. If not for Cameron then definitely for Lee, even if Lee is long gone.

Author Danya Kukafka drags almost the entire book out over a mere three days. The choice to focus so much on the day Lucinda is discovered and the two days following means readers will spend time inside of Cameron, Russ, and Jade’s heads for almost a minute-by-minute examination. In a bid, most likely, to attract readers who prefer literary fiction, every emotion and relevant memory of these three characters gets scrutinized. The resulting heaviness weighs the book down so much it drags to a lull before the killer’s identity is revealed, which will disappoint readers not only for who did it but also how it happened.

Kukafka has a way with words, yes, but readers can only take so much pretty prose before getting impatient with the sluggish plot. With the book’s billing as a thriller, readers will be waiting on tenterhooks for the story to get started. By the time it does, the book ends and so will the patience of readers expecting something else.

I recommend readers Bypass Girl in Snow.