Cold Waters by Debbie Herbert [Book Review]

Book Review

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Title: Cold Waters

Author: Debbie Herbert

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publish Date: May 1, 2019

Genre: Mystery Thriller

Series: Normal, Alabama #1

My Rating: 3/5

Cold Waters by Debbie Herbert


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 stick, so Violet is sent away.

After more than a decade in a psychiatric ward, Violet returns to her broken-down hometown of Normal, Alabama, to claim her dead mother’s inheritance and help her overworked sister care for their unstable, alcoholic father. Violet, still haunted by that night eleven years ago, endures horrific flashbacks and twisted hallucinations while townsfolk spit accusations—and for all she knows, they’re right.

As the summer heats up, details of Ainsley’s fate appear like a beast’s wild eyes, watching in the darkness, and grim revelations about Violet’s family threaten to devour her. Already on the edge of madness, Violet must fight to keep her sanity long enough for the terrible truth to burst from the cold, dark waters.

Cold Waters by Debbie Herbert


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. Ainsley was never found. Violet has been in a psychiatric facility ever since. Violet doesn’t remember the events of that night, but the locals believe she got away with murder. Coinciding with Violet’s return home is the draining of the lake where Ainsley went missing. With speculation being that Ainsley’s body may finally be found, Violet is haunted by her past and the occasional flashback of what happened that night.

Cold Waters is partly mystery about what happened to Ainsley and partly family drama. There is a lot of drama happening in Violet’s life. She and her sister are not on good terms. Her father health is failing and his behavior is odd. Violet was close to her mother, but her mother’s death has left her feeling alone. Also, Violet is not welcomed back into town with open arms.

Cold Waters started off as a good story, but I was not feeling it by the end. It starts with a protagonist with no memory of the night that forever changed her life and a small community ready to turn on her. An unreliable narrator and a cast of unlikable characters always peaks my interest. Unfortunately, it didn’t hold my interest at the end of the book. In the end, everything is wrapped up, but I was let down in how it was handled.

Books in the Normal, Alabama series:

  1. Cold Waters
  2. Scorched Grounds

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