Cold Midnight

Cold Midnight by [Kanell, Beth]THE BOOK: Cold Midnight


THE AUTHOR: Beth Kanell

THE PUBLISHER: Raphel Publishing

SUMMARY: Teens Claire Benedict and Ben Riley have been climbing the roofs of town at night — each for a different, and private, reason. When they meet, they realize they’ve seen something related to a recent murder of the Chinese laundry owner. Their struggle to work with the detective on the case, and stay out of major trouble, tosses them into danger from both fire and blizzard. Not to mention the criminal. Or is there more than one?

Beth KanellTHE BACK STORY: Based on a real “cold case” of the murder of Sam Wah in 1921. It took 3 years for me to pry enough details from the oldtimers in town to realize what had happened, in this multi-ethnic Vermont town as the veterans of World War I brought their pain back to the region.

WHY THIS TITLE: I like a mystery that has some darkness to it — don’t you?

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: By the time you finish tracking along with Claire and Ben, you’ll know who killed the Chinese man, and why … more importantly, you’ll know why the real Vermont town involved never closed the case, and isn’t likely to.

REVIEW COMMENTS: “A can’t-put-it-down mystery. Kanell’s third historical novel for young adults is filled with excitement, unique characters, and the sometimes gritty truth of life in Vermont in the 1920s.” “For me, Cold Midnight is a novel rich in atmosphere. The late fall setting is virtually a character in the book: a Vermont railroad town in post-WW1–a cruel war that has left gassed survivors like Claire Benedict’s father unable to work, and his exhausted wife laboring in a mill. The town is full of the old prejudices: the Irish pitted against the French, Claire’s shabby tenement juxtaposed with the grand Bateman mansion; the Catholic faith that young Ben Riley adheres to–that Claire’s mother craves and her Protestant husband scorns. From the rooftops where Ben and Claire go climbing above all the intolerance, we see the stores, schools, churches, the seedy Avenue Hotel where men,including Claire’s father, play cards and drink illicit booze. Kanell fills the book with sensory details: the clangor of bells, the smell of smoke, “a red flicker of flame” that finally pulls us into the mystery. And ultimately into a hotel room where Claire and Ben, drawn together through their passion for climbing, bear witness to a murder. Now the novel itself catches fire and soars upward and outward to a tumultuous climax of fire and ice. Cold Midnight is (paradoxically) a warm and beautifully written tale of two idealistic young persons who struggle not only to bring a fire setter/killer to justice, but to create peace and reparation within their own dysfunctional families. I really love this book!

AUTHOR PROFILE: Beth Kanell lives in northeastern Vermont, with a mountain at her back and a river at her feet. She writes poems, hikes the back roads and mountains, and digs into Vermont history to frame her “history-hinged” novels: The Long Shadow, The Darkness Under the Water, The Secret Room, and Cold Midnight. Her poems scatter among regional publications and online. She shares her research and writing process at

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Two weeks after this book came out, three “oldtimers” in town approached me and whispered the name of the real murderer. And each was a different name! But I think I know … and like the news reporter at that time, I plan to keep the secret.


LOCAL OUTLETS: Green Mountain Books, Lyndonville, Vermont

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: On Amazon, from the author

PRICE: 15.95 in stores; 3.99 as e-book; OR author price of softcover is $10 plus $5 postage


Published by


Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

2 thoughts on “Cold Midnight”

  1. What a great adventure to have Snowflakes in a Blizzard feature this book today! Readers, when you were a teen, were you a rebel like Claire? Do you still watch today for news of local crime?


  2. Sounds interesting. I like historical novels and mysteries so I’m guessing I can’t go wrong with this one. Adding to my want to read list. Good luck with the book.

    Liked by 1 person

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