Winter Reeds

“A gripping tale of how some secrets can’t be buried.” –Kirkus Reviews 

“A powerful first novel…many threads of intrigue…Don’t expect easy answers or predictable conclusions.” D. Donovan, Midwest Review of Books

winter-reeds-cover Documentary filmmaker Mike Harrison moves from New York City to a remote northwest town to research an infamous car dealership fire. The generation-old unsolved arson left two people dead, and if Mike can solve the mystery he’ll have a career-making movie. He’s distracted, though, by beautiful Katie Ames, a fellow New Yorker who’s come to Hallmark County with her mentally handicapped brother to piece together their own complicated past.

Katie’s dating an architect who was tangled up in the dealership arson. The man is obsessed with Katie, and threatens her when she tries to break up with him. The next morning, the police find his dead body.

Was he murdered? The medical examiner won’t say. Mike and Katie are outsiders in a town where the popular Sheriff Trout is a law unto himself, and citizens live under constant surveillance. Trout has his own secrets that he doesn’t want Mike to find, and he’s not afraid to use his position to intimidate and coerce. But there’s a story to be told: one that ties the arson, the dead architect, the sheriff, and Katie’s missing family together into a devastating small-town scandal.

Is Mike prepared for the price he’ll have to pay to tell it?


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“In a novel filled with intrigue and mystery, Holland Kane has a woven dark enchantment – one you won’t want to escape.” Carol Orlock, award-winning novelist

“Kane shows sensitivity to language and story in this revealing book – I couldn’t put it down.” Ina Bray, librarian and former chair of the King County Arts Commission

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On the evenings when I could not persuade Katie to see me, I dreamed of her slender presence. I liked her hair and her voice and liked her all over. At night her eyes were a dusty violet blue, in the daytime a pale blue. But Katie had a boyfriend, and rumor had them getting it on and falling apart every week. Maybe I was expecting more than I should have, but it seemed that when she was with me she wanted to leave her boyfriend, and yet some unknown force was holding her back.

If she didn’t answer me on the phone when I called, I would leave a voice message telling her I was looking forward to seeing her at the Overdrive. I would give her the date and the time, and I would text the same information. My affection didn’t play out in the cool and distant tones of a Miles Davis record. I was on edge and restless because she didn’t always accept my invitation. She would often hesitate, and hum a little, taking her time to decide. Her wavering would darken my mood.

“Well, if you can’t come tonight, then maybe we can catch a movie this weekend?” My heart beat faster, reacting to the fear that I could damage my welcome. “But if you do the Overdrive tonight, then I’d love  to see you.”

I checked in at the bar early and slunk around with a drink in hand, talking to several people I knew, but keeping an eye on the front door, eager to see her, hopeful that any moment she might appear. Sometimes I had to wait a half-hour, sometimes longer, but I wasn’t upset because if she came I was relieved. We would eat and drink and talk. She was only 23 and I was already 27, both of us at exciting places in our professional lives—my documentary filmmaking, her eagerness to move into public service. It was a joy to be with her.

On those occasions when she came to the Overdrive I hated it when she had to leave early. It usually meant that her architect boyfriend was back in town. Even though she wasn’t mine to keep, I couldn’t surrender her. This wasn’t the best situation, and it was made worse because the three of us lived in the same building. My apartment was on a floor below hers, her boyfriend’s apartment on the penthouse floor. When I stepped outside my door, I would immediately look up the staircase at her door. A reaction that was as automatic as watching for traffic before crossing a street. To say that I was obsessive is probably kind, because I was a near nutcase. What’s more, in the evenings I couldn’t go to sleep without stepping into the hallway several times to look for a light along the threshold of her door, hoping that she was home and safe.

Nevertheless, distracted as I was, I continued to make progress filming. I had shot roughly one hundred hours of raw footage, and by my measure that meant I had enough material for a final cut that could run an hour. As extraordinarily wasteful as this sounds already, I needed two hours worth, but my production slowed after I met Katie and life became more complicated.


© 2012 All rights reserved. Excerpted from Winter Reeds, Rumor House Books. Used with permission.