Cold Blood by James Fleming

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Cold Blood by James Fleming

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Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: It's the beginning of the Russian Revolution and Charlie Doig wants revenge on the man responsible for the rape and death of his wife. If you enjoy a high octane chase (with armoured train) book than this could well be the book for you.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: March 2010
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 978-0099529521

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Charlie Doig has a mixed heritage, with a Scottish father and a Russian mother. He's also got revenge on his mind – and the object of that revenge is People's Commissar Prokhor Federovich Glebov, generally to be found at the side of Lenin, in influence if not geographically. Glebov is also the man who raped and tortured Doig's beloved wife, Elizaveta. The chase starts in St Petersburg at the start of the Russian Revolution, and then across Russia with Doig in pursuit of his prey.

Oh, and there's rather a lot of gold at stake too.

They used to make heroes like Charlie Doig, you know. He's straight out of John Buchan or Boy's Own Adventures but with added sex. Having your revenge on a People's commissar is no trivial matter and Doig recruits a private army – well 'mixed bag of recruits' might be a better description – and commandeers an armoured train. Together – more or less – they fight and connive their way towards Siberia in their search for Glebov, who's after the gold as well. Glebov was in charge of the Tsar before his murder and it's the Tsar's gold reserves that everyone is chasing.

Within the constraints of the time Charlie Doig is a gentleman, but these are strange times. He naturally fits into the aristocratic classes with their assumptions of superiority and confidence that the Bolsheviks will be overcome. He's a wily political operator though, as well as being physically ruthless and he's well aware of which way the red tide is turning. There's a suspicion throughout that he doesn't see his future in Russia – along with many other aristocrats.

This could be a very ordinary 'chase' book but what raises it above the norm are Fleming's prose and the background research for the book. The style is sharp, but relaxed and very accessible. The ear for dialogue is well-nigh perfect. The research is worn lightly too, with little in the way of obvious exposition but a lot of accurate atmosphere. There's blood and gore aplenty and whilst there is violence it's not gratuitous, which can't be said of much of the sex, unfortunately. There's dramatic tension and for much of the book the pages turn themselves – apart from those times when you're slightly nervous about what you're going to find overleaf. If this type of book appeals to you then it's definitely recommended as being one of the best of the genre.

Cold Blood is the sequel to the much-acclaimed White Blood and whilst each can be read as stand alone novels it would be better to start with White Blood if you're intending to read both books.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this type of book appeals to you then you might enjoy Under Enemy Colours by Sean Thomas Russell.

Buy Cold Blood by James Fleming at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Cold Blood by James Fleming at

Buy Cold Blood by James Fleming at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Cold Blood by James Fleming at


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