Fatal Frost by James Henry

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Fatal Frost by James Henry

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Forget that it's a sequel or a prequel and enjoy a good plot with some bang-up-to-the-moment issues. A good read if not as pacy as the original Wingfield novels.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 464 Date: November 2012
Publisher: Corgi Books
ISBN: 978-0552161770

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It was 1982 and Jimmy Savile and the sinking of the Belgrano dominated the airwaves. Thirty years on we might prefer to forget that either happened, but in Denton the first black policeman has arrived. DS Waters is on loan from the Met, in the name of encouraging racial diversity. Frost and his team have been dealing with a spate of local burglaries when the body of fifteen-year-old Samantha Ellis is found in local woodland near a railway line, but it's not immediately evident whether this is suicide or something more sinister. For the teenagers of Denton it's going to get a lot worse, but DS Jack Frost finds the pressure of work a welcome distraction from home. His marriage is in difficulties, his wife is either unwell or as dissatisfied with the marriage as he is - and he's not immune to the charms of DC Sue Clarke either.

I loved R D Winfield's Jack Frost, both in the written word and as portrayed by Sir David Jason and Wingfield's death in 2007 was a blow. There was though a degree of uncertainty when I found that James Henry was continuing the Jack Frost character (pastiche is always a trap waiting to spring) - and downright trepidation when I realised that Fatal Frost was the sequel to the first book in the revived series. What had I let myself in for?

Henry goes back to Frost's earlier years, the final Wingfield book being best described as a send-off for Frost. He's the same grumpy, dishevelled character, but rather older - if Frost could ever have been described as young. Superintendent Mullet is still in charge at Denton and is charmless as ever. This isn't quite as odd as it might seem as there were always long gaps between the original Wingfield novels and time was somewhat elastic. Sit back and enjoy. Don't worry about this being a sequel or a prequel - this works perfectly well as a stand alone novel.

Wingfield was most at home writing for radio and the skill came through in his books. The writing was tight - in the best sense of the word - with so much packed in that I occasionally wondered if I was getting two books in one. I loved his style and it was this that gave me a slight sense of disappointment with Fatal Frost - perhaps best illustrated by the fact that the blurb writer includes on the back of the book an event which doesn't happen until nearly two hundred pages into a four hundred and fifty page book. There's a lot happening in the story but the pace is more forgiving than I expected. The plot is good though - I genuinely didn't see what was going to happen and it's very much of the moment. I would love to see what Henry could do with his own characters - and without the inevitable comparison to Wingfield.

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

Ian Rankin has brought Rebus back. If Fatal Frost appeals then we think you might also enjoy The Silence by Alison Bruce.

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Buy Fatal Frost by James Henry at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Fatal Frost by James Henry at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Fatal Frost by James Henry at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Fatal Frost by James Henry at Amazon.com.


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