Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dead of Wynter by Spencer Seidel

Spencer Seidel's debut novel, Dead of Wynter, has such a feeling of pervasive evil that it's hard to leave the book. When Alice Wynter Dunn returns to her family home in Maine after learning of her father's death, she's trapped again in the family trainwreck she once escaped. And, the reader is trapped in it with her.

Maybe Alice Dunn's marriage, and her life, is just a facade right now, but everything she has right now is beautiful compared to the life she left behind. When she left Redding, she tried to forget about her life there. "The Wynters had a long history in Redding...They were that family, the family who never had any money, the family whom everyone knew was abused by the alcoholic father, the family you felt sorry for and hated all at once." When Alice's mother calls, saying her father is dead and she needs her, Alice goes. She doesn't know that her father's death is suspicious, and Alice's twin brother, Chris, a drunk who remained under his father's thumb, is missing.

The Wynters, and, in some ways, the entire community of Redding, is haunted by ghosts. Flashbacks tell the story of Chris' teen years when he ran with his wild cousin, Ray Wynter and another friend, and the terror they caused in the town. Now, years later, the past has come back to claim people, and Alice's only hope may be an aging detective and a boyfriend she deserted years earlier. Chris Wynter isn't the only one in the family who kept secrets.

This is a disturbing book, one hard to put down. And, although it's set in Maine, it brought back memories of Florida when I lived there. Chris and Ray Wynter called themselves Masters of Chaos. This struck a bell with me, and I looked up Lords of Chaos. Here's what I remember, as it's explained in "The Lords of Chaos was a self-styled teen militia formed on April 13, 1996 in Fort Myers, Florida. They gained notoriety for a crime spree that ended with the April 30, 1996 murder of one of the boys' teachers, Mark Schwebes, who served as Riverdale High School's band director." Eerily similar to part of the story of Chris and the Masters of Chaos.

Can you ever escape the past? Spencer Seidel's Alice Dunn tried, only to be caught up in elements of the past that she never knew would come back to haunt her. Dead of Wynter is haunting, disturbing, and a suspense novel that's hard to put down.

Spencer Seidel's website is

Dead of Wynter by Spencer Seidel. Publishing Works. ©2011. ISBN 9781935557692 (paperback), 292p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The author's publicist sent me a copy of the book to review.


Beth Hoffman said...

Oh my, this book sounds like one that my neighbor would devour -- he loves disturbing stories. I'll be certain to tell him about it. Thanks, Lesa!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Beth. I stopped in to booktalk to one of the women in the office on my way home from work today, and she grabbed it up. She said I sold her with just a couple sentences.