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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Cold Woods

Cold Woods

Series: North Hampton County #2

ISBN: 978-1542093040

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publication Date: 8/13/2019

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 5 Stars

Top Books of 2019 When the long-buried bones of a man turn up in the middle of December, Pennsylvania homicide investigator Parker Reed knows he’s in for a cold case. Trisha and her friends were teenagers when Trisha’s stepdad went missing. Now thirty years later, his remains have been found in the mountains. The women have always known there was more to his disappearance than meets the eye, and they must confront their grim past. Secrets can stay secret a long time in the lonely Appalachian foothills—but not forever. When Parker and his partner identify the remains, their investigation leads them to Trisha’s childhood home. But the deeper Parker digs into the crime, the more he realizes that the truth isn’t always simple. In fact, it’s so complicated that even Trisha and her friends don’t fully understand what really happened in those cold woods.

My Review

The talented Karen Katchur returns following the introduction of River Bodies (My Top books of 2018), with the second installment of her popular Northampton Country series –COLD WOODS. (My Top Books of 2019) 🙌

In this multi-generational dark, gripping, spine-chilling mystery, a cold case unearths dark secrets that refuse to remain buried. When lines are blurred between good and evil. A "must-read" series. I would suggest cranking down the AC, grab a blanket or throw, a cup of espresso or tea, pretend it is winter with snow falling, and DIVE IN!❄

The Slate Sisters

If you have not read RIVER BODIES, (Northampton County #1), no worries because guess what??? It is on sale NOW for only .99 cents on Amazon Kindle through the month of August! What a DEAL! Order Here.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Karen (An Elevator Ride with the Author) last year with the introduction of the series. A fascinating interview. 😍 View it HERE!

Learn the inspiration behind this riveting series and its characters and in a small rural county where the past never stays buried. Also, if you have not read her previous books, highly recommend. My links are included in the interview.

COLD WOODS revolves about three young girls (Trisha, Dannie, and Carlyn) childhood friends around the age of ten. In 1983, Trisha’s family moved from the outskirts of Chicago and immediately made friends with the two neighbors gals in the small rural town of Bangor, Pennsylvania.

The girls formed a bond and called themselves "The Slate Sisters." The three mothers also became friends. Trisha’s stepfather was a drunk, creep, an abusive husband, and has a thing for young girls. Everyone wanted to stay clear of him. Each of the girls and their mothers has distinct personalities. They each have their own secrets. He goes missing.

Now thirty-some years later, headlines read: Human Bones Discovered Near Appalachian Trail. Leading the present investigation back to when the girls were younger. An aluminum baseball bat was found in the ground. Now, Lester’s remains have been found in the mountains.

From past to present, Trisha returns from Las Vegas (also in an abusive marriage). She meets up with her former friends from the past and stays with her mom, Sharon. Dannie’s mom has just passed away due to a heart attack.

What happened years ago when Lester went missing? Of course, not many people were too sad to see him go. However, now Detective Parker Reed is on the cold case. Could the bones be that of the missing Lester?

If so, who killed him and why cover it up.? Three girls and three mothers. Which one swung the bat and who buried the body? Who will crack? Each suspect the other.

Detective Parker Reed returns with some new characters including his new partner, Detective Genna Brassard. (I hear we get more Genna in Book #3) Spring Girls (2020) Add to your TBR list.

In book #1 we were introduced to Becca, a veterinarian and her faithful German Shepherd, Romy. As well as a bad guy named John. We also met Detective Parker Reed, and in book #2 he gains a partner, Detective Geena Brassard.

In RIVER BODIES, the author uses the elements of nature, river, water, and woods to set the tone and atmosphere. As she mentions in her interview, the metaphors to reflect the characters’ emotions, needs, and wants. The environment impacts a character’s actions. She references she likes to explore how nature plays a role in the types of crimes committed by those characters. John’s character was a hunter.

In COLD WOODS, we once again return to nature with a setting in the small rural town of Pennsylvania, during the brutal winter months, snow and woods. The harsh weather, cold and unpleasant, like the darkness and evil of human nature, as well as the woods being a mystery and white blanket of snow as purity or redemption. I am a huge nature gal. Nature can be beautiful and dangerous at the same time. There is a mystery and the unknown.

The properties of light and darkness are often associated with weather conditions. Light and darkness are metaphors which represent people, their thoughts, feelings, actions, moods, and light is often connected with goodness, warmth, positive things whereas darkness is connecting with cold, sadness, abuse, evil, bad.

Like the first book, there is an ongoing theme of parent-child relationships. Often neither understands the other. They hold secrets for fear of being misunderstood, guilt, shame, or other. However, by doing so, often, this leads to more complex issues.

Friendship and loyalty are other ongoing themes. The author intricately weaves and explores female friendships, mothers, daughters, and the lengths they will go to protect each other.

Katchur not only delivers an engrossing knock-out dark, bone-chilling psychological suspense thriller, she also explores strong human dynamics, which makes her novels stand out with her compelling characters.

In my opinion, it makes for an engrossing read. In addition to being plot-driven, COLD WOODS and RIVER BODIES are both strongly character-driven as well as atmospheric with a strong sense of place.

Emotionally resonant, and a deeply insightful tale of family bonds, friendship, betrayal, violence, abuse, and redemption. Men can be good and some evil. We see both sides. I think readers will enjoy the ending!

The author is not afraid to tackle complex characters, and dysfunctional families, and traumatic experiences which carryover from childhood to adulthood. She explores small rural towns and young girls who want a better life; however, what lengths will they go to break away, which may lead them back to the same place.

A superb mix of suspense, mystery and coming-of-age classics like Stand by Me, Now and Then, and The Five.

An avid fan of the author’s work, I highly recommend all her books. I would love to see this series made into a TV series 🎬 and looking forward to #3 Northampton Country SPRING GIRLS. (June 2020). Fans of true-crime and authors: Lisa Gardner, Karin Slaughter, A. J. Banner, Amber Cowie, Jennifer Hillier, and Christina McDonald will enjoy.

A special thank you to Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy I also purchased the audiobook narrated by Lauren Ezzo, which was exceptional!


“Intricately interweaving the past and present, Karen Katchur ramps up the tension and hits every mark with Cold Woods, the second installment in her compelling Northampton County series. Once again, Katchur has crafted an intense psychological thriller that pounds with heart-thrumming suspense and unexpected twists. With its intriguing characters and clever plot, Cold Woods will keep readers frantically flipping pages late into the night.” —Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and Not a Sound

“Karen Katchur nails it with Cold Woods, the second in the Northampton County series and a perfect follow-up to her #1 bestselling hit, River Bodies. Katchur starts Cold Woods with a bang, then builds the action steadily, a gradual unfolding of truths and small-town secrets among three former best friends. Dark and chilling, creepy and emotionally complex—and enthralling all the way to the shocking end.” —Kimberly Belle, bestselling author of The Marriage Lie and Three Days Missing

“Cold Woods kept me in its chilling grip from its eerie opening lines to its unexpected finish. I’m entranced by Karen Katchur’s direct, well-crafted prose, artful plotting and characters that leap from the page. She perfectly captures the strange insularity of a small town, and unravels its secrets with an expert hand. Not to be missed!” —Marissa Stapley, bestselling author of Things To Do When It’s Raining

Karen Katchur takes you on another dark, engrossing ride with Cold Woods, the excellent follow-up to her bestseller River Bodies. Friendships and loyalties are tested to the extreme, and this chilling tale had me frantically turning the pages to discover who would make it out alive. — Hannah Mary McKinnon, author of The Neighbors

About the Author

Karen Katchur

Karen Katchur is an award-winning suspense novelist with a bachelor of science in criminal justice and a master’s in education.

She lives in eastern Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.







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