Once in a while I land myself with a book that helps me in reassuring myself that all is well with crime writing and THE FROZEN DEAD by Bernard Minier was one of those. All along I have maintained that what I look for most in a Mystery or a thriller is the plot. Most of the times my ratings depend upon the pace and the tightness of the plot, and added to those two very important aspect, I also look for twists. Not someone to shy away from a generous offering, I love my twists especially when they are strewn liberally all over the book.
Right from the beginning when a headless dead horse is found hanging, through the brutal murder of another man, right upto the end where he kept his last twist alive, Minier wrote a book that was pretty impossible to not to finish at one go. And boy did he almost turn this piece of crime writing into a horror novel. The use of the secluded landscape, the chilly weather, and the “madhouse” he created an atmosphere where I got goosebumps while reading. And I live in a tropical country. Not for a long time had I been so involved in a book I was reading. The last instance that comes to mind was a duo experience of BLUE HEAVEN by C.J. Box and another brilliant French effort IRENE from Pierre Lemaittre. And now this.
I guess the only aspect where Minier followed the well trodden path is while developing martin Servaz. He was divorced, grumpy, middle aged and overweight. A pretty standard character who solves an extraordinary crime. But, one this that did make Servaz a bit different from other fictional policemen was the fact that he felt frightened when the situation was frightening. He wasn’t made into a Superman with no fright and all gloom.
All in all a definite entry into my top Mysteries of all time. The pace of the plot, the twists, the atmosphere, the mad house and its inhabitants all made this book an experience to cherish.