Mystery of the Month – Shiver

What begins as a reunion among five former snowboarding champions takes a terrifying turn when it appears one of them might be a murderer.

Ten years ago, Milla and her friends competed in the British Championships alongside the beautiful but nasty Saskia, a woman who took a disturbing delight in hurting the people around her to get what she wanted – to win. But then Saskia disappeared. Everyone presumed she died — a terrible accident on the ice — but no one knows what really happened. Is she dead or is she playing another one of her cruel mind games?

In the present day, the group arrives at the small ski resort in the Alps to play a mysterious Icebreaker game. But something isn’t right. Someone has set the game up to include secrets about Saskia. And no one can work out who actually invited them to the reunion. Not only that, but all their phones have gone missing and the lift access to the mountain has been disabled. There’s no way out and no one to call for help.

The narrative shifts between the present day and the events of ten years earlier with ambitious, level-headed Milla the story’s narrator. She’s hiding a secret she doesn’t want anyone to find out, especially not Curtis, Saskia’s older brother. Even though Saskia has been missing for many years, her presence is strongly felt with her past actions leaving long-lasting fractures between the old friends. Even the scent of her perfume still seems to be wafting along the hallways of the resort.

The dangerous, snow-covered mountains and secluded lodge provides the perfect environment for a tense, faced-paced psychological thriller. Shadowy figures slip around corners, mysterious messages appear on mirrors and bodies slip easily into the snow. There’s a nice tribute to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None when one character disappears and the others pair off, frightened and unsure who to trust.

As a debut, Shiver is just as enjoyable if not more so, than other popular novels of the same genre. Author Allie Reynolds has created characters who feel real (despite all being extremely good-looking), particularly Saskia, that awful person we’ve all met, but for some reason, want to be our best friend. Allie Reynolds uses her in-depth knowledge of snowboarding (being a former pro freestyle snowboarder herself) to great advantage, with several dramatic plot twists paralleling the death-defying maneuvers performed by the competitive characters.

Shiver is a dark, sexy and pacey thriller about winning — not only in competitions but in relationships, too — with a seriously chilling take on how far some people will go in order to finish on top.

Shiver by Allie Reynolds is published in Australia by Hachette.

Standout Simile:

I suck in the thin cold air of the glacier. The Alps spread out below me like spiky white teeth.

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