Cold River

by Liz Adair


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Product Description

Mandy Steenburg thinks her doctorate in education has prepared her to run any school district — until she tangles with the moonshine-making, coon-dog-owning denizens of a tiny district in Pacific Northwest timber country.

She's determined to make a difference, but the local populace still looks to the former superintendent for leadership. When Mandy lands in the middle of an old feud and someone keeps trying to kill her, instinct tells her to run. And though she has to literally swim through perilous waters, she finds a reason to stay and chance the odds.

About the Author

Liz Adair

A native of New Mexico and mother of seven, Liz Adair lives in northwest Washington with Derrill, her husband of 47 years. A late bloomer, Liz published her first Spider Latham Mystery just as AARP started sending invitations to join. After writing three books in the Spider Latham series, Liz moved into romantic suspense with The Mist of Quarry Harbor.

Liz took a break from suspense to write Counting the Cost, a novel based on family history. The book won the 2009 Whitney Award and was a finalist for the Willa Award and the Arizona Publisher Association’s Glyph Award.

Liz is back writing romantic suspense with Cold River and feels that’s where she belongs. “I remember when I was a young mother with all those kids and a slender budget,” she says. “I was so grateful for books that let me go places and meet people who carried on adult conversations. That’s what I want to write—cheap vacations.”

Heeding advice given to writers not to quit their day jobs, Liz works as a forensic scheduler on schedule delay analyses. She also serves on LDStorymakers’ board of directors, is a member of American Night Writers Association, and chairs the annual Northwest Writers Retreat. Visit her blog at

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Average rating:

(based upon 5 reviews)

A delightful suspense story that leaves you guessing right up until the end
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

Cold River unfolds into a delightful suspense story that leaves you guessing right up until the end. Mandy and her sister Leesie have both ran from relationships to find themselves a new life in the Pacific Northwest timber country. Although Leesie appears to fit in well; Mandy is subjected to various attempts on her life. The author brought exciting twists and turns, introduced new characters well, illuminates music and school bands in a way I had not considered previously, and brought to life the idea to keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

“If brains was lard, he couldn’t grease up a good-size skillet, bless his heart.”
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

Reading Cold River by Liz Adair made my week.

Leesie asked. “Say, can you help me here? Define ‘paradigm.’”
It took Mandy a moment to shift gears. “Paradigm? It’s a framework, or model, that is accepted and that everyone works—and even thinks—within.”
Leesie furrowed her brow. “So a paradigm shift would be . . . ”
“You know when you hear people talk about thinking outside the box? Maybe that’s what it means—seeing the world in a whole different way.”

When Mandy Steenburg is hired as superintendent for the Cascade School District in Limestone, she enters a world where the cultural history of the people winds through them like a river. It is manifested in their music, their language, and in their tight circle of loyalty. In Limestone, the circle closes to shut Mandy out.

Things become increasingly tense when she realizes that someone is purposely making attempts on her life.
“She has a face like a blind cobbler’s thumb.” But not Mandy. She is pursued by one man, snubbed by another, and welcomed warmly by a third. All amid a setting that is at times enchanting, at times threatening, but always beautiful.

"Resting her arms on the railing, she looked through the tall windows at the vista spread out beyond. The river looked like a steel-gray ribbon winding around a spreading bouquet of Douglas fir and rosy-brown alder. Above the river, fog lay in a fluffy white stratum, like an eiderdown that had been shaken out and was floating down to cover the bed again."

Almost imperceptibly, Mandy begins to care about her job and about the people of the isolated town. She comes to recognize their strengths and deep principles.

“We married, had children, toured with our own band. We were successful. We worked with some very talented people and made a lot of money. But it’s no life for a family, no life for children, you know?”
Again Mandy nodded.
“I wanted to give my children what I was given by my parents. I wanted them to have roots—freedom to roam in a safe, rural environment. I wanted them to have old friends and family around them. I wanted Granny Timberlain to be part of their lives.” He brushed back a curl that had fallen over his brow. “I felt that the music would be with me wherever I went, that I wasn’t defined by how famous I was or how much money I made. More than that, I felt that I would be defined by how good a father I was and how much good I did with my music.”

And she comes to care about the man who loves her. Cold River captures the reader with suspense, romance, jealousy, prejudice, love, joy and paradigm shifts.

Loved it!!!
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

Love all of Liz's books. This one was really great. Once I started reading it I couldn't put it down. I have all of her books. Spider Latham was a hoot!! Way to go Liz. :)

Another All-Nighter to Finish
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

I love curling up on a chilly day with good mystery and Liz Adair's Cold River delivered over the Thanksgiving Weekend with a "couldn't put it down" read. Having several projects I was working on, I kept having to take a break to read another chapter, finally staying up into the wee hours of the morning to finish it. Not many books grab my attention like this one did - If you like a good mystery with a little romance, you'll definitely want to pick up this one up - great setting, quirky characters and a story that will keep you guessing until the end.

Read my full review at

A Clever and Charming Romantic Suspense
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

When life in Albuquerque becomes complicated, twenty-nine year-old Dr. Mandy Steenburg finds escape in her newly earned doctoral degree. Two remote school districts need a new superintendent badly enough to take a chance on this enthusiastic newbie—one is in Alaska, the other is Limestone, Washington. So, Mandy packs up her life and ships it north.

Tossing her doctoral degree on the back seat, she exits the big city in her sassy Miata bound for Washington State and a small town of residents descended from North Carolina depression-era settlers. The only thing smaller than Limestone is the residents’ gene pool.

The climate change was expected, but the chilly reception Mandy receives from this community makes it clear she’s unwelcome as the replacement for Grange Timberlane, her beloved, but facially-afflicted predecessor, who is now her frustrated assistant.

Welcome or not, Mandy is determined to make a difference in this seemingly undisciplined school system despite the tangled web of feuding families, suspicions, and secrets. Headway is slow, and friends are hard to come by — that is except for Fran, the manager of the Qwik-E-Market, and her wickedly handsome boss, Vince Lafitte, who just happens to also be the head of the local school board. Tangled as five coon dogs in a fox hole, right? Well, hold on.

Vince and Grange share unpleasant history as well, and the more Mandy comes to care about each of these two men, the more accidents and near-death experiences she seems to have. Toss in some moonshine, some magnificent Bluegrass music, and the unexpected arrival of Mandy’s teenaged sister, and Adair has concocted an intriguing romantic suspense that will leave you smiling, snarling, and page turning until the satisfying end.

It’s no surprise that Adair was the 2009 recipient of the Whitney Award for Romance. She is a master storyteller who does her research, creating books that breathe with realism. Adair spreads enough guilt and motive around to keep the reader nail-biting and guessing about the conclusion until the end, while injecting the read with delicious moments of humor.

Walnut Springs is the fortunate publisher of this charmer. I highly recommend Cold River for readers who love a good suspense novel, a tangled romance, or both.

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