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Cold Waters

(Normal, Alabama #1)

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  17,078 ratings  ·  906 reviews

From USA Today bestselling author Debbie Herbert comes a thrilling story of murder and madness set in the darkest corner of Alabama.

Everyone thinks fourteen-year-old Violet is a murderer. After a summer-night swim with her best friend, Ainsley, Violet is found confused, wandering in the forest—and Ainsley’s never seen again. But without a body, murder charges won’t sti

Kindle Edition, 326 pages
Published May 1st 2019 by Thomas & Mercer
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Debbie Herbert It is a stand alone as far as the resolution of the characters and their predicaments. The second book in the series has the same setting of Normal, A…moreIt is a stand alone as far as the resolution of the characters and their predicaments. The second book in the series has the same setting of Normal, Alabama but will have new characters.

Thanks for asking!(less)
Debbie Herbert
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

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Average rating 3.83  · 
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 ·  17,078 ratings  ·  906 reviews

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Joey R.
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
2.0 Stars —“Cold Waters” by Debbie Herbert was another Kindle First selection that I finally got around to reading between books by more established (and better)thriller authors. After showing some early promise, I really wish I would have left this one on the shelf. “Cold Waters” tells the story of Violet who returns home after several years of mental health treatment to live with her somewhat senile father and manipulative, spoiled sister, Delaney. The book is primarily written from the perspe ...more
Wow! To say that I like Southern Noir is an understatement and when it done well, it knocks my socks off. Cold Waters, my Amazon First Reads selection for March knocked it out of the park and into the parking lot beyond. This is one amazing chilling, twisty, dark book!

When Violet was 14 years old, tragedy struck in the town of Normal, Alabama and the town blamed Violet for its loss. A young girl vanished without a trace, the last person to see her was Violet, who was found wandering in the fores
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Cold Waters by Debbie Herbert is the first book of the new Normal, Alabama series. This one is a thriller that is told from multiple points of view throughout and then also different timelines.

Violet is the central character of this first book of this series with the biggest point of view in the book. Violet has just returned to Normal, Alabama to live with her father and step-sister after being away for over a decade, most of which was spent in a mental health care facility.

Years earlier Violet
Violet returns to Normal, Alabama after 11 years away. She returns to claim her inheritance from her deceased mother’s estate and help her sister take care of their ailing father. Violet left town after her friend Ainsley went missing. The locals believe Violet killed Ainsley, and now with Violet’s return home, they believe the truth will finally be revealed.

When Violet was 14 years old, she and Ainsley met up for a late night swim. That night, Violet was found confused and wandering the woods.
Apr 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: give-aways
From the beginning, I had mixed feelings about this book. Violet’s almost constant superstitions became boring pretty quickly. I think they also showed her vulnerability and child-like attitude, especially as she was confronted with her unusual family dynamics, a common “coming home again” theme.

As the story progressed, Violet’s confidence grew, and we learn more about the tragedy that has defined her life since the age of 14. I was certainly engrossed throughout this psychological thriller!

PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
I have terrible luck with Amazon First Reads Books. I didn’t hate COLD WATERS as much as I have previous months’ choices, but I didn’t like it either.

Violet’s friend Ainsley disappears and Violet is suspected of her murder. She spends years in a psychiatric hospital and is now back in Normal, Alabama to help her (awful) sister care for their father who has dementia.

COLD WATERS is filled with unsavory characters from liars to mean girls (women) to sociopaths. Violet, who narrates a good portion o
Charles  van Buren
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
Charles van Buren


2.0 out of 5 stars

Very predictable

April 7, 2019

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

This review is of the Kindle edition:
Publication date: May 1, 2019
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Language: English

Not my usual sort of book but the author lives in Alabama and the book is set there in a town named Normal. And the description promised that the town is anything but normal. It all happens right next door in Alabama and is described by some as Southern
Kat Brownell
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
I just wasnt that into it. I was all set to give it a 3, until near the end, when it turns out that every character is either: a murderer, covering up a murder, protecting a murderer, concealing evidence, planting evidence, framing innocent people, disposing of bodies, and/or stealing corpses. And these are the protagonists! And then they all live happily ever after. Hard no from me.
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Cold waters hold secrets

This was my First Read choice for April, I love psychological suspense books so this was a no-brainer. The story goes back and forth between the disappearance of Ainsley and the present day. Violet has no memory of what happened and it has wrecked havoc on her mental health since that night.

By the end of the book many mysteries come to light, it is definitely a psychological nightmare. It's a page turner, well worth the read.
J.A. Schneider
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing story! My heart broke for sweet Violet, trying to climb out of her haunted past against the odds of a toxic family filled with lies and hostility.

At age fourteen, she went for a late-night swim with her friend Ainsley, who was never seen again. Violet was found wandering the woods in a state of mental breakdown, while Ainsley’s body was never found. Violet’s small town of Normal, Alabama still considered her a murderer, and she was sent to a psychiatric facility.

Ten years later
Diane D White
Apr 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
This Does Alabama NO Favors

Bless this author's heart, she wrote a book I'm sure exacted enormous amounts of effort, time, and determined hopes from her, and the most charitable thing I can say is "So THAT happened".

It's pretty awful.

Every sordid stereotype of inbred Alabama dysfunctional society crawls out from the dark pages of Herbert's tale. I didn't even grow up there and I'm still embarrassed for the poor place.
Laurie Buchanan
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm a fast reader, but COLD WATERS by Debbie Herbert made me read like greased lightning — I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out what was going to happen next. Especially with one of the sneaky, conniving, and manipulative characters — the personification of evil. Twists? Yes! Characters you love to hate? Most definitely! Rooting for the underdog? Absolutely! I highly recommend this book! ...more
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As I slowly learned the truth about a troubled woman, I became totally caught up in her life where questions about the past and present keep mounting. I have read many of the prior books written by Debbie Herbert, and was thrilled to get her latest release. She has a knack for creating original plots plus unique characters, and the first story in the Normal, Alabama series is a great example of her talent. There are numerous uncertainties from the very start of COLD WATERS, and as each unknown f ...more
Aug 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
I found the plot a little too predictable times it seemed far-fetched. The story opens with the promise of a great mystery and you will immediately be fascinated with Violet and her haunted past. As we learn about the circumstances surrounding the night of Ainsley’s disappearance...I thought certain details would too easily be revealed as public knowledge. Secrets are rare in small towns where everyone has known everyone for generations...especially among teenagers who love to gossip ab ...more
Kevin Dowson
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've wavered over how to rate this book for a few days. There was a lot to like about it but some things that I wasn't so keen on, in the end I decided to round up to four stars because it is basically a well written psychological mystery mixed with a bit of Southern gothic, and as a recipe it works well.

The main character truly frustrated me, for her inability to see through the things going on around her, but in hindsight I'm sure the author has a much better grasp on the mindset of someone in
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Two girls go into the woods for a midnight swim but only one stumbles out incoherent and unable to remember what happened.

A decade later, a skeleton is discovered and old secrets come to light.

There were many narrators in this story which might have been confusing but actually added to the insight into the characters’ psyche.

The central character earns sympathy off the top though it’s unclear exactly her role in her friend’s disappearance. Is she guilty or was it all an accident?

Getting to the
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: thriller
Unfortunately this just didn’t work for me; I felt that the characters were all flat, confusing and unlikable, the twists weren’t twists at all and the revelations were dull.
Elizabeth Jarcy
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Cold Waters was my Kindle First pick for the month of April 2019...
... And I think I did a pretty good job picking this month!

The book begins with the main character, a young woman by the name of Violet Henderson, returning to her hometown of Normal, Alabama after she is finally declared mentally competent and released from the state's care. News of Violet's homecoming quickly spreads like wildfire through the small town of Normal, dredging up a lot of pain for several of the town's citizens, es
Kayla (IG: kaylasbookgram)
Got this books as my March Amazon First Reads and absolutely loved it! I’m so happy with my choice! I’m not sure how there’s going to be a second book with how it ended but I guess I will wait and see.
Ann Hebert
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Alabama mystery

I totally enjoyed this mystery of two sisters and their friend, living in the small town of Normal. The tragedy of disappearance of Ainsley, changes life for so many . The twists and turns were totally unexpected, and I loved the ending.
Megan BG
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebooks-i-own
Probably 3.5 stars. I wouldn't really call it a "thriller"... more like a mystery. It played out pretty much as expected, but was still enjoyable. ...more
Jayasree B
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a page turner!
This book had oodles of good and bad. Good hearted Violet who is suffering from the guilt of an incident over a decade ago. She comes back from a mental health rehab to her hometown and wants to stand on her own two feet. But when she gets to Normal everyone around her is just evil. The only safe place for her was the institution she lived in all those years.
With everyone conniving around her, she has to prove her innocence. And somehow manages to do it.
The mystery of who com
Josie Mae
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
It left a bad taste in my mouth. They kept trying to convince us the protagonist was a good person, a little too hard. Maybe she was a good person in bad circumstances, but how could she live with the way this book ended? I agree with many of the reviews - flat characters, too many tropes, badly planned and too many unbelievable twists. There weren't any characters we could like... they were all pretty despicable. SPOILERS:, but I kept expecting Violet to grow some balls and go to the police wit ...more
Vivian Barz
Jul 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm a sucker for flawed characters, and COLD WATERS does not disappoint. It's about a trainwreck-y (but likable) girl who returns to her small town to sort out an inheritance; she gets to deal with all sorts of fun things, like a passive-aggressive family and unfriendly townsfolk. There is a mystery involved, but to delve into it in this review would spoil the fun for you reading it! Just get the book, nd you'll get sucked in!

This was the first book I read by Debbie Herbert, and I was little mad
Nola Arganbright
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Dark and healing

This was a very hard book for me to finish. It is just dark enough to feel a weight within me to feel the heaviness of the actions of those involved. Strong plot and deep characters make this a strong, moving, and suspenseful book.
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
I did my best and lost patience at about 80% in when THE MOST UNBELIEVABLE PLOT TWIST EVER (tm) occurred. I finished it anyway. Good luck and skill to you, on this journey of WTF.
Linda Romer
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviews, favorites
Loved Cold Waters! This book blew me away. A surprise ending I didn't see coming. A fast paced mystery thriller that will have you guessing. Great characters in this riveting novel. I loved the evil Delaney. And my heart broke for sweet Violet. A mesmerizing plot, this book has it all.

I give Cold Waters 5 stars for its thrilling read.
I would recommend this book to Mystery/Thriller fans.
Michele Anderson
Aug 14, 2019 rated it did not like it

I kept reading, hoping it would get better . . . A mangled, predictable plot. I won't be reading this series!
Darcia Helle
Debbie Herbert's writing style makes it easy to get lost in the story. I felt like I was there in the small town of Normal, Alabama, along with the colorful cast of characters. That being said, I found the plot too predictable and, at times, far-fetched.

The story opens with a bang, and I was immediately fascinated by Violet and her haunted past. As we learn about the circumstances surrounding the night of Ainsley's disappearance, I thought certain details would too easily be public knowledge, or
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Debbie Herbert, a USA Today and Publisher's Weekly bestselling writer, pens Psychological Suspense, romantic suspense and paranormal romance novels. She’s always been fascinated by magic, romance and Gothic stories.

Married and living in Alabama, she roots for the Crimson Tide football team. When not working on her upcoming books, Debbie enjoys recumbent bicycling and jet skiing with her husband.

Other books in the series

Normal, Alabama (2 books)
  • Scorched Grounds (Normal, Alabama, #2)

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