CONSTANCE CORNISH – Dead of Winter. Simon & Schuster, hardcover, 1959. Detective Book Club, hardcover, 3-in-1 edition. No US paperback edition.

   After the death of her husband Paul, Abbey Humphrey had decided to leave Manhattan and the big city life for the slower pace of a small town in Vermont, but when she discovers the body of the husband of Jenny, a good friend and neighbor, in her home when she returns from a weekend trip to New York City, she also learns that maybe she hadn’t been fitting in as well as she thought she had.

   There are secrets, she finds out, beneath the surface, no matter where you are, and in a small New England town, more people know them – or rumors about them – than maybe is true in a big city. Gossip and friends who are nosier than you think they were, and suspicions, abound.

   The story takes place just before Christmas, but the chill comes more from not knowing who’s responsible for trying to pin the murder on her, and less from the chill in the air. The police are of little help. They seem to suspect everyone, but Abbey perhaps even more than the others.

   What this one-shot novel, by an author I have found very little about, really is is a detective story with some bite. There are plenty of clues and alibis to be checked out, both solid pluses as far as I’m concerned. There’s no way a series could be made of this one, but I would have thought Constance Cornish might have written another one, but she didn’t. Based on this one single example, I think she should have.

   The photo of her there to the left comes from the jacket’s back cover. It also states that Constance Cornish was an actress on Broadway, and that she also acted – and wrote – for radio. Googling for more information didn’t turn up anything for me. You may have better luck. The jacket also says she was married to George A. Cornish, Executive Editor of the New York Herald-Tribune. An online obituary for the latter confirms that he was survived by his wife, the former Constance Brown.

Note: Another online review of Dead of Winter can be found here: