Reviews for ‘Murder In A Cold Climate’
Beyond `Golden Age’ of Crime Writing.
My heart sinks whenever a new crime novel promises to transport me back in time to the Golden Age of crime writing, and so it was with joy and surprise that I discovered the work of Stanley Reynolds whose column in the Guardian I loved, and whose brilliant, satirical first novel `Better Dead than Red’ is in my top ten.
There is nothing arch or derivative in `Murder in a Cold Climate’, no laboured period detail nor over-researched references to brand names etc to unsuspend one’s disbelief, just the natural product of a fine mind and talented writer with an obvious deep love and knowledge of literature applying his skills to this genre and creating the most beautifully written crime novel I have ever read.
For those with a predilection for fictional heroes, unlikely Police Chief, Parker `Boomer’ Daniels is one to fall in love with. together with fellow lost soul and misfit, acting pathologist Dr Phyllis Skypeck. In this, the second novel in what I hope will be a much longer series, no one is what they seem. All the characters have true depth not just in their enigmatic, slowly emerging back-stories (fascinating as these are) but also in the actions that stem from their personalities and how that drives the plot; in fact it is only in Moll, the adorable SBT, that what you see is just what you get. Inhabitants of and visitors to the evocatively described, snow-covered New England small town of North Holford hide their secrets, all as seemingly impenetrable as the glacially frozen lake.
The versatility of style is masterfully handled moving from haunting to poetic to thrillingly exciting (the twists of the plot race along compellingly, at a rate of knots) and often comic especially in the scenes with Sergeant Davy Shea who with Parker makes up one of the oddest couples ever.
In fact it is reductive to go on about the Golden Age at all; this novel is, like all good writing, timeless.
The Prologue kicks off with sex and literature, but the story soon turns into sex, literature and murder most foul. MURDER IN A COLD CLIMATE is also funny; and an easy read in the great American crime novel style of Raymond “Big Sleep” Chandler and Dashiell “The Maltese Falcon” Hammett. An absorbing read.
Set in a poetically described New England town (I mean this literally, the ice cream parlour is called ‘The Emperor of Ice Cream’) during a harsh and snowy winter, this intricate crime novel both lets you in and keeps you guessing just the right amount to make a truly satisfying murder mystery–something of a rarity in recent times.
‘I’m not a real cop’ Parker “Boomer” Daniels speaks this mantra throughout Stanley Reynolds’ subtle and evocative crime novels. And I believe him. He doesn’t always carry a gun, he gets too close to the suspects, he well…muddles along really. But as the crimes are solved, so the characters grow. While Boomer may not be a real cop, his character does resonate as a real person– flawed, emotionally battle scarred, carrying on as best he can.