Cover Image: Winter Witness

Winter Witness

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Member Reviews

I’m not sure if I am able to classify this book as there are cozy mystery, women’s fiction and psychological thriller elements
I can say I liked it because it’s the excellent start of a new mystery series and I think it’s an excellent book, well written, poignant and engrossing.
It’s atmospheric and I cannot help visualising what is happening in white and grey. The winter atmosphere, the small town full of secrets and the damaged characters who are fighting to overcome their problem or are locked in their grief.
It’s not a fast paced/action packed book but the author did a great job in world building and character development. I love her style of writing and she’s an excellent wordsmith using a style that is more literary than mystery.
There’s hope at the end of the travel but you will meet the characters and share their grief.
Bianca, Mike are my favorite characters and I hope to meet them again as they are interesting and fleshed out.
The mystery is solid, full of twists and turns, and it kept me guessing.
It’s not a fast paced/action packed book, you get to meet the characters and follow Bianca in her efforts to solve the mystery and become a member of the community. It’s a bit slow for about ¾ but the last part was excellent and gripping.
I want to know what will happen in the next instalments, this one is recommended.
Many thanks for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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In Winter Witness, book one of the Batavia-On-Hudson Mystery Series, author Tina deBellegarde transports the reader to the tranquil Catskill Mountains lakeside village of Batavia-On-Hudson, New York, for an intriguing mystery story that will keep the reader guessing and turning the pages.

The past year has been difficult for Bianca St. Denis as she grieves her husband's death, while also trying to transition from an outsider and gain the acceptance of the villagers, even though she has lived in the village for the past 3 years.

When local beloved nun Sister Elaine Fisher is found murdered on the shore of the frozen lake, and her childhood friend and local village historian Agatha Miller dies two days later, Bianca thinks that there is a connection between both deaths, and decides to be an amateur sleuth and delve into investigating the deaths on her own. In a small village where the villagers seem to know everything about each other, Bianca remembers what Agatha told her while visiting her: the village is full of secrets hidden from the public eye. One never really knows what burdens each carries, what battles they are fighting, and that things are not always as they appear. With that in mind, Bianca decides to bear witness to the comings and goings of the villagers, noting down observations, but the more she learns about the villagers, the more she discovers that the more danger, potential motives, and suspects are added to the list, while her meddling also adds to the burden of Sheriff Mike Riley's investigation. Will Sheriff Riley listen to Bianca's information and find the killer before the killer strikes again? 

In her debut novel, Author Tina deBellegarde weaves a fast-paced and suspenseful tale that follows Bianca's amateur sleuth investigation to uncover the truth behind the deaths of longtime friends Sister Elaine Fisher and Agatha Miller.

I loved reading this action-packed story. Bianca's observations of the villagers and her personal investigation into the deaths kept me intrigued as she slowly put the pieces of the mystery puzzle together and uncovered the truth. The reader will be easily drawn into this richly descriptive plot that will keep them guessing as long hidden secrets, family dramas, a growing list of possible suspects, motives, and clues are uncovered. And if that's not enough, Bianca also has to deal with personal issues of grieving her husband's death, loneliness, and desperately wanting to gain the acceptance of the villagers.  

I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I loved reading snippets of the quirky villagers' individual secrets, and the richly vivid description of the tranquil lakeside village in the Catskills Mountains, that makes me want to take a roadtrip to the picturesque Hudson Valley region.

I look forward to reading the next book in the Batavia-On-Hudson Mystery Series.

Winter Witness has enough drama, tension, action, dark secrets, intrigue, and unexpected twists and turns that will take the reader on one heck of a thrilling roller coaster ride.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest book review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.

https://jerseygirlbookreviews.blogspot.com/2020/11/winter-witness-by-tina-debellegarde-vbt.html
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An appealing cozy mystery set in upstate New York, this story centers around Bianca, a recently widowed emigrant from the city. She is still dealing with her husband Richard’s death when elderly resident Agatha, with whom she has recently become friends, dies suddenly. Agatha’s death comes only a few days after that of Sister Elaine, a nun in her nineties from the local convent.  The sister had been attacked and killed ostensibly for her valuable family ring while walking the convent spaniel around the lake.  The connections between Agatha, Elaine, and other townspeople become clearer as Bianca reads the journals that Agatha left behind for her, and Bianca can’t help but wonder if the two recent deaths are connected with the controversy over a large corporation trying to grab land locally in order to build a casino.
The characters, especially Bianca, are sympathetic and sensitively depicted, and the novel’s treatment of the tension between development and employment in rural areas on the one hand and the preservation of natural beauty and the character of local communities on the other is compelling and thoughtful. The story also illustrates how such communities can be close and supportive, yet exclusive and suspicious of newcomers. The rural New York setting of the story is one the writer obviously knows well and cares about. In addition, Bianca’s loneliness and her search for new friendships and purpose after her loss are touching, making this novel more than a cookie-cutter cozy. 
If a reader is looking for heart-thumping suspense or an intricate mystery, this novel likely won’t appeal, but if a sweet story with a riddle to be solved and some emotional depth is what draws you, give this one a shot.
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I enjoyed the village, the mystery and all the varied personalities in this fun and twisty mystery. I love when the town is one of the characters, and it definitely was here. I could picture the described places like the lake and the diner, and the people inhabiting it each had a unique voice and spirit; I wasn't getting characters confused. I would definitely read another book in this series, it would be fun to revisit these characters. 
Only minor complaints here: some of the chapters felt a little detail-heavy when it wasn't quite necessary. Sometimes that was useful for setting the scene but it got to be a little excessive toward the end and the book got to be a bit lengthy.
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I wish I lived in Batavia-on-Hudson with the characters that Tina deBellegarde brings to life so ably in Winter Witness. I want to sip coffee in Stella’s Café with recently-widowed Bianca St. Denis, the sympathetic newcomer trying to fit into this small Catskill Mountain town while facing financial problems. I want to know more about Sheriff Mike’s troubled marriage and the PTSD that drove him from the city to this village. And, of course, I want to know how Bianca and Sheriff Mike will track down Sister Elaine’s murderer. (That’s not a spoiler. The book opens with Sheriff Mike examining the body and murder scene.) DeBellegarde has created an entire universe of characters in this well-written mystery. They remind us that everyone bears the scars of some heartbreak that they – we – hide from casual friends and neighbors. Bianca challenges us to keep that in mind, to looks deeper and avoid judging each other based on the masks we present to the world. I can’t wait to revisit Batavia-on-Hudson when the next book in this series comes out.
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What a wonderful mystery! Bianca, a young widow alone near a small village in the old farmhouse she and her husband had been renovating before his untimely death. A murdered nun loved by the community. A cantankerous old woman whose family used to be the largest employer in the area. A sheriff who left New York City after the killing of his partner for something quieter. The author paints a picture of the community and it’s residents in a way you feel you know them, but they all have secrets and no one always sees the suffering of others. I hope there is a sequel to this book, the ending tied up the questions quite well but I so enjoyed the characters and the sense of community in this beautiful town. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance copy, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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This book was incredible! Everything i love in a mystery-thriller. An incredible protagonist, an enticing setting, and a agatha christie like whodunit plot. As an archivist myself, and if there are more books in the series, i would love to see what Bianca does with Agatha’s notes. I love the connections between each of the characters, especially between agatha and bianca. The ending was really beautiful and poetic and i loved the part about shade, and without it we wouldn’t have the light. Really beautiful ending to a lovely book!
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