A Touch of Frost an enjoyable mystery

March 24th, 2011 Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, Crime, Fiction, Kelly, Mystery, Uncategorized

Netflix recommended the BAFTA-winning TV show A Touch of Frost to me, and so I watched the first episode. Since I enjoy British police procedurals I checked the first novel of the Frost series out of the library.

Frost at Christmas rehashes the same mystery as the pilot of the TV show, although the TV show made several changes. The core mysteries are still the same. Eight-year-old Tracey disappears after leaving Sunday school. While searching for Tracey, police finds the remains of a skeleton tied to a bank robbery from 1961.

The multiple storylines—the missing child and the cold bank robbery—are mixed up with other, less-drawn cases that Frost inadvertently solves, like the stolen electronic equipment. Frost calls himself inefficient and bumbling, and sometimes lets other detectives take credit for his work. Yet he’s the one who ultimately sheds light on multiple crimes, and he’s warm-hearted and humorous. His character can be coarse and makes crude remarks at inopportune times, but he also works long hours and clearly cares about solving cases. He’s likable and sympathetic. I can see why this novel was picked up as a TV series . . . that ran for eighteen years.

Frost has a brand new Detective Constable under his wing, the newly promoted Clive Barnard who happens to be the nephew of a police bigwig, and the juxtaposition of the two makes an entertaining contrast. Barnard isn’t as likable as Frost, but as he also wants justice he makes a nice counterpart. None of the characters—Tracey’s prostitute mother, the drunk homeless man who is sure the police stole a quid from him—feel like caricatures.

Frost in Winter is a little grittier than a cozy, but it’s not graphic or overly violent by any means. It should appeal to a wide range of mystery and crime fans.

Title: Frost At Christmas
Author: R. D. Wingfield
Source: Public Library
Read: March 2011

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