12009916Reviewed by Kathie Smith

The tagline of Cold Light is “They found a body. I know who it is.” Laura is home watching a ceremony to break ground on a memorial for Chloe, her best friend in her youth, when a sudden shocking discovery turns the ceremony into a crime scene.

From here the reader is transported to Laura’s world at the age of 14. She and Chloe were each other’s only friends; best friends with a special bond. A flasher has plagued the city during the past several months by targeting girls walking on their own. There are no attempts at kidnapping or additional sexual assaults, but the community is afraid the situation will escalate and are being diligent about their children taking measures to stay safe.

It is about this time that Emma comes into the picture and Laura’s jealousies begin. Though they are all often together, Laura and Emma do not form a friendship and Laura is painfully aware of the fact that Chloe and Emma have a private friendship of their own. An unspoken contest about who spends the most time with and knows the most about Chloe begins to develop.

One evening spent alone with Chloe and her boyfriend Carl changes Laura’s life forever in ways she believes Emma can never understand. The news reports a lovers’ suicide pact between Chloe and Carl made because Chloe’s parents would not let them be together. The school and the city memorialize Chloe as an innocent beauty, a modern day Juliet. Emma and Laura both know this is a false image, yet they never discuss why. Each carries their own reasons and secret understandings with them through the years.

As modern day Laura and Emma watch the non-stop coverage of the newly discovered body, the truth trickles out bit by bit until the entire story is revealed. It is only then that they are able to cut the lingering ties between them and finally look toward futures of their own.

Cold Light is a look into the lives of three seemingly typical teenage girls. While the details of Laura’s defiance toward her parents and jealousy surrounding her friends may seem unrelated and sometimes tedious, they paint a well-rounded picture of her that is crucial for the reader when the truth is revealed. Ashworth has crafted a psychological thriller that makes the reader slowly come to the frightening reality that this sort of tragedy is not far-fetched. In fact, it has the frightening potential to touch their communities as well.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Kathie is a writer, wife, mother and volunteer living in the beautiful Appalachian mountains. Her passion for the written word is fulfilled by creating her own fictional work, freelancing, acting as an adviser to another author, and reading with her six year old daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow Paperbacks. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.