Jio’s third book combines flashbacks with a contemporary romance and mystery set against a freak late-spring snowstorm in Seattle.
Newspaper reporter Claire Aldridge’s recovery from a personal setback has not gone well. She’s struggling at work, and her marriage to the love of her life, Ethan, is crumbling. As the couple appears to be heading for a breakup, Claire is given an assignment to write a feature story about a sudden snowstorm that blankets Seattle in May 2010. The story’s angle is to compare and contrast it to an identical storm that took place on the same day in 1933. While Claire works to find something interesting about the twin storms, she stumbles across the tale of a woman named Vera Ray, whose 3-year-old son, Daniel, disappeared during that 1933 storm. Vera, a decent and beautiful single mother, works at a ritzy hotel cleaning rooms, while trying to feed and clothe her little boy on pennies a day. Down to her last cent and unable to pay her rent, with no one to watch Daniel while she works, Vera leaves him alone in the apartment, but returns only to find him gone. The only clue to his disappearance is Daniel’s beloved teddy bear, found in the snow outside her apartment building. Kicked out of her apartment, she reports him missing to police, who dismiss the child as a runaway. The parallel stories of Claire, whose husband’s wealthy family owns the paper where they both work, and Vera, a down-on-her-luck beauty who stops at nothing while trying to find her child, are told in a compelling, but ultimately implausible method by former journalist Jio, who incorporates an overabundance of coincidence in this tale, all of which serve only to stretch the novel’s believability to the breaking point. Competently written, but the prose runs from saccharin to syrupy.
Those willing to overlook a series of implausible coincidences and wade through spoonfuls of sugar to get to the fairy-tale ending will be rewarded. This novel will enchant Jio’s fans and make them clamor for her next offering.