Cold as Ice – Local Author’s Latest Novel Based on 2006 Case 

Claudia Whitsitt pens a mystery-thriller about a woman who assumes her dead twin sister’s life

The cover to Claudia Whitsitt’s latest novel, Black Ice. Image courtesy of Whitsitt.
Claudia Whitsitt, a retired teacher, is the author of 10 novels, all of which occur in Michigan. Photo courtesy of Whitsitt.

All of Claudia Whitsitt‘s novels occur in Michigan and her latest, Black Ice, is no exception. 

I’m a Michigan native, Detroit-born and raised, and a Mitten Girl through and through,” said Whitsitt, of Manchester, who earned both her bachelor’s degree in special education and her master’s degree in guidance and counseling from Eastern Michigan University. She retired in 2012 after teaching for 37 years. Since 1986, she’s been married to Don. They have five children and four grandchildren.  

Black Ice

In Black Ice (Bowker $15), identical twins Brea and Beth are in an accident, where Beth dies. Everyone believes Brea is Beth, but she can’t tell them otherwise since her jaw’s wired shut. Brea then has this insane idea to assume Beth’s identity, long dissatisfied with her own life. In a warped way, Brea’s keeping her promise to Beth that she’d take care of her twin’s family should something happen to her. 

When Brea takes Beth’s place… her motivation is altruistic,” said Whitsitt. “But as Brea’s character grows, she realizes she’s been a caretaker for most of her life, putting her own desires and needs after her family and married lover. Brea fights the urge to have a life of her own, but is pulled to live a decent, honest, and happy life. She’s backed herself into a corner now, though, and admitting what she’s done would have dire consequences for not only her, but for her niece and nephew. It’s impossible to find an easy solution.”

Ripped from the Headlines

 Whitsitt based Black Ice on the case of Whitney Cerak and Laura Van Ryn, who were involved in a fatal crash April 26, 2006, which made national headlines. People believed Cerak died and Van Ryn survived when Cerak survived and was mistaken for Van Ryn, who died. 

The story stayed with me. As I played ‘what if,’ I came up with the idea for the novel,” she said. “I also got into the psychological underpinnings of what made my characters tick in this book, which was a lot of fun.”

A New Series

Initially a standalone, Black Ice is the first installment in Whitsitt’s new series, Love and Loss.  

I was amazed at the resilience of women who had suffered devastating losses, only to come away stronger than before their trauma. Thus, a new series was born,” said Whitsitt. “In my past novels, many of my characters are based on personalities I know, but in Black Ice, Beth and Brea are total fiction. It was easier in some ways to write these characters than others I’ve written…  I felt more freedom in creating them. They are both dark and complicated characters, not that I don’t know anyone like that, but the older I get, I tend to spend time with those who have less drama in their life.” 


“Black Ice” by Claudia Whitsitt can be purchased HERE.

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