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3.32  ·  Rating details ·  282 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
In the frozen reaches of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, fierce winter storms can hit without notice. In the white opacity of one such blizzard, Norman Haas simply walks away from his prison work detail without detection.

After agonizing days of blistering cold, Norman finds himself at the farmhouse of a lonely middle-aged woman who gives him temporary shelter while keeping him
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 23rd 2003 by Three Rivers Press (first published 2001)
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Rating details
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Aug 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
I was hesitant to read this book after seeing some of the posts here and am so glad that I ignored them and went ahead with it. I really enjoyed it and found it hard to put down.

If you are looking for a simple love story - look elsewhere. This is a suspense novel and it's characters are as complex and fascinating, though not always likable, as the remote area in which they live. Smolens surprised me right up until the end with unpredictable story lines and he certainly knows how to capture desol
Jan 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
The first part grabs your attention and you think, "Wow, this is going to be a great book to snuggle up with!" But then you hit the second part. And it bogs down. Completely.

And P.S. to the author...hang around children before writing about them anymore. Your "3 yr old" vascillated between being an infant and a kindergartener, the way you wrote about her. And really? You could come up with "the child" (over and over again) when referring to her? That got tedious.
Feb 21, 2010 rated it liked it
I read this solely because another author (Pete Dexter) strongly recommended it in an interview. And it's a great setup, but it suddenly turns from wow-I've-got-such-a-soft-spot-for-neo-noir-and-this-is-good-times to oh-I-guess-we're-creating-unbelievable-Archetypes-who-act-completely-inconsistently to, finally, really?-that-was-what-was-going-on-in-the-woods?-really? Can I have those two hours back?

Which is to say, stick to writing books, Pete, and not recommending them.
Jan 23, 2009 rated it it was ok
The first half of the book was quite good then the last half of the book was strange and unbelieveable...all this fuss over the killing of bears in the U.P.?
Dec 28, 2012 rated it liked it
A crime novel set in the U.P. in winter. I didn't care much for the characters, even the good ones, but the descriptions of cold and snow rang true.
May 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Good enough book. Mostly interesting to me because it's set in the Upper Peninsula.
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
2nd book I read by John Smolens. I enjoy the Michigan connection.
Jun 16, 2011 rated it it was ok
“COLD is fiction to chill the soul—too revealing of human selfishness to be easily read, too well-written to be easily put down.”
—Selected for's Best of 2001

"Cold is a finely crafted, wild yarn set in the great north. John Smolens gives us a suspenseful tale in a style somewhere between Jack London and Raymond Chandler. A fine read."
—Jim Harrison, author of Legends of the Fall

In the vast frozen reaches of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, fierce winter storms can hit without notice. In the
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book got my attention because it's set in the U.P. of Michigan. The first third was pretty okay and then it just got stupid. There's way too much violence and some animal cruelty that made me ill. In the last portion of the book the characters did so many things that made no sense. Even the 3 year old child seemed to be treated more like an infant by the author. The ending? Also non-sensical. I can't recommend this one.
Aug 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Smolen's knows our U.P., and its characters not only inside out, they get under your skin and make you itch to know more. Without wasted explanation, he tells an unexpected tale, but one that you know could happen here. There's no need for any extra drama in the U.P. and Smolen's lays each scene before us with plenty of vivid realism and details, but no added drama or frills. Kind of like the U.P. itself.

A young man walks away from the prison in the middle of whiteout conditions. He walks for wh
Ενα μυθιστορημα που προσδιοριζεται ως "υπαρξιακο θριλερ μυστηριου".
Κρατω μονο τον ορο "υπαρξιακο" αφου δεν βρηκα ουτε το μυστηριο ουτε την απαραιτητη αγωνια που ειναι το συστατικο του θριλερ.
Εγω θα το χαρακτηριζα οικογενειακο δραμα με το κλασικο ερωτικο τριγωνο και τις -όποιες- περιπλοκες που αυτο δινει.
Δεν εχει το σασπενς με την εννοια του ορου οπως αυτος ηχει σε μενα (να δημιουργει ταχυπαλμια,εθισμο,ανυπομονησια για τη συνεχεια),ωστοσο ειναι ευπεπτο,χωρις δυσκολες εννοιες και χωρις αυθαιρετα,κ
Genera F
Sep 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
Such a hole in the wall kind of book. But absolutely fascinating. The kind you think about years later
Oct 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
As a Michigander, there's something intriguing about a novel taking place in the U.P. It's one of America's oft-forgotten nooks and crannies, so I'm glad to see it get some pub, even if the author has the bias of a native resident.

Character-wise, it's bleh. Most of the characters are flat, and the ones that aren't don't manage to be the most convincing. The plot also seemed stitched together a bit too hastily. I'm an aspiring author, and I'm not an outliner, I'm definitly a pantser. But one of t
Mar 31, 2008 rated it did not like it
A classic story of a blossoming relationship playing out against an old lover's triangle. I found the relationship between the sheriff and Liesel to be much more interesting than the two brothers fighting over an underachieving woman like two little children fight over a toy. Unfortunately, the book focuses more on the trailer-park antics of drunken, drug using convict brothers rather than the sheriff and his new found romance.
I believe Mr. Smolens could really write a good descriptive story if
Eileen Pucci
Sep 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
This novel started off very well -complex, suspenseful, literary, then it fell into the land of make believe. Norman, the prison escapee who has been bashed in the head and knocked unconscious still manages to find and dig up a body with a pick axe in the middle of a Northern Michigan winter, and it doesn't even take that long. That scene is only the beginning of a string of silly impossibilities. The author is (or was) the director of the MFA in Creative Writing program at Northern Michigan Uni ...more
Jan 24, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, michigan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: michigan
This book started with a lot of promise but didn't sustain it. The opening with the escaped convict seeking shelter in Liesl's house drew me in right away. The problem was that most of the characters in the book were so messed up and somewhere in the range of unlikable to repulsive that I couldn't get into them. I liked Liesl a lot and Del the sheriff. Some of the characters weren't even developed much, and the Asian character was portrayed in a pretty offensive manner. It was a quick read, so t ...more
Dec 11, 2009 rated it it was ok
The book caught my interest because it is set in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, where I spend part of my summers. COLD takes place during the relentless winter in the northwoods and you can tell that the author has experienced those harsh winters. The book starts off great. The first chapter is a perfect short-story, but, unfortunately, the book begins to disappoint after the first half. While the relationship between the sherif and Liesl is interesting, the book focuses more and more on bears in t ...more
Jul 25, 2009 rated it liked it
A tautly written thriller set in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The author at the time of this publication was the director of Northern Michigan University's MFA in Creative Writing. Jim Harrison, my favorite American author and a Michiganian, Jim Harrison has this to say on the book's jacket blurb:

"Cold is a finely crafted, wild yarn set in the great north. John Smolens gives us a suspenseful tale in a style somewhere between Jack London and Raymond Chandler. A fine read."

I could not agree more.
Mar 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, thriller
A raging snowstorm in a small town. Throw into this an escaped convict out for justice and revenge after being framed for murder and you have a thriller. The sheriff, Del, gives chase after Norman (the convict) seemingly leaves his friend for dead. Del has a lot to figure out in a short amount of time. There is greed and betrayal with Norman's family and it's all about to hit the fan.
Character's include Norman's ex-girlfriend, his brother and the powerful father of the ex-girlfriend.
Great read.
Jan 14, 2013 rated it liked it
What got me interested in reading about this was that I had read novels in the past that had taken place in the upper peninsula of Michigan. I thought our winters were long!

I was thinking too that having an escaped convict loose would make for a nail-biting read. It’s nothing like that though. Seems all there is for them is sex, talk about sex, discord, and drinking. Oh ya, and getting through the snow.
Dec 07, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: yoopers
Cold is a very interesting story about a young man who walks away from prison into a blizzard. But thats not really what its about at all.
This book could have had better character development and the story itself was interesting enough to carry the book at least another hundred pages.
I felt like the author wrapped things up too quickly and not tidily enough.
Cold is a 2 night read, and if a friend has it and offers it to you definitely take it.
Jan 23, 2016 rated it did not like it
I did not like this book. I went to Norhern Michigan and was really looking forward to reading this because the author is the director of creative writing at Northern Michigan. It was interesting to read about the UP, knowing what he was talking about, but I really did not care for the characters or the story line. The characters seemed to be lacking and it just didn't flow well for me. I was really disappointed.
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
okay, I HAD to read this. I live in Michigan! Hope it is a good one!

I am so glad I went with my impulse to give this book a try. I love characters that are complex. Everyone has issues, and these people have issues! While some parts were a little predictable, there were also a few twists and turns I did not expect.
Alice Harbin
Feb 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
At first I was disappointed. The characters were not fleshed out and the plot was exceedingly slow. Perhaps the author meant this to be so. After 100 pages I was really into the book, and I grew more and more eager to discover the outcome, which was not exactly what I expected, but had it's little twists and turns.
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: escaped-prisoner
This book grabs you on the first page and doesn't let go. Norman Haas walks away from a prison in the very north woods of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Half frozen and starving he finds himself at the farm house of a lonely middle age woman who has a heart breaking past of her own. This is a top rate page-turner.
Jill Yesko
Jun 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Great start to this book. Cold frightens the hell out of me; thus, I'll read anything that takes place in climates that chill me to the bone. SPOILER....Stop reading if you don't want to know....I had to put the book down when they started mutilating the bears. I can not abide animal cruelty in fiction. I saw it coming a mile away with the introduction of the Chinese character.
Feb 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: americana
One of those books where you think the characters are going to be more sympathetic than they are. They would do strange things but based on reasonable logic or emotions you could empathise with, and then all of the sudden they'd say something completely random or have a violent outburst, which is what got most of them into trouble in the first place.
Jul 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Surprisingly good book from an author I'd never heard of. Set in Michigan's Upper Peninsula during a bitter cold winter, "Cold" gives the account of an escaped convict returning to the backwoods town where he had been victimized by an unscrupulous brother, all the while being prusued by a local sherrif. It's a good story written in a very readable style. I recommend it.
Jul 19, 2011 rated it did not like it
The only reason I continued on with this was because it was my grandmother's book. She passed away while I was in the middle of it, and somehow, it just seemed wrong to not finish it. In retrospect, I'm betting she wouldn't have finished it either. So bad. Cardboard characters, thoughtless plot, very very bleh.
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According to Northern Michigan University's website, John Smolens "...has published five novels Cold, The Invisible World, Fire Point, Angel’s Head, and Winter by Degrees, and one collection of short stories (My One and Only Bomb Shelter.) Cold was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and the Detroit Free Press selected Fire Point as the best book by a Michigan author in 2 ...more
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