Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio (Plume trade paperback, 25 September 2012).
"Blackberry winter" is a colloquial term used to describe a cold snap that occurs in late spring, when the blackberries are in bloom.
In Seattle, the second of May 1933, there was a terrible snowstorm. Young single mother Vera Ray, who can't afford child-care, kisses her three-year-old son Daniel good night and leaves him alone while she goes to work as a hotel chambermaid. She tried taking him with her once, but her supervisor was not pleased. When she finally returns home the next day, Daniel has disappeared and the only sign of him she can find is his snow-covered Teddy bear, not far from their apartment.
Switch to the present, also in May. A severe blizzard covers Seattle, bringing the city to a standstill.
Reporter Claire Aldridge, of the Seattle Herald receives a call from her editor, asking her to do a story comparing the current storm to the one in 1933.
At first reluctant, she finally agrees, and during her background research Claire stumbles across the story of Daniel's disappearance, never solved, and during her quest for the truth, discovers that she has a connection to Vera and Daniel.
The book goes back and forth between Claire and Vera, and we slowly learn the reasons for Vera's desperate financial straits and Claire's eagerness to do the story. Although neither is shocking, the
details of both are described in thorough detail.
This is a charming tale, mysterious and romantic, and the surprise conclusion does not disappoint.
FTC full disclosure: Many thanks to the publisher for a review copy of the book.