Cold Hands eBook µ Paperback

  • Paperback
  • 272 pages
  • Cold Hands
  • John Niven
  • English
  • 12 March 2014
  • 9780434022120

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Cold HandsDonnie Miller lives with his family outside Regina in central Canada After a troubled childhood in Scotland Donnie now leads a charmed life as a writer with a successful and wealthy wife a much loved son and a beautiful house Early in the book the family dog dies in mysterious circumstances Gradually it becomes apparent that Donnie's past hides a very nasty secret and that perhaps that past may be coming back to haunt himI didn't enjoy this book It starts well but then the pace slows and it seems to be going nowhere At the halfway mark I was on the point of giving up on it when suddenly it sprung into action However it very uickly turns into a totally improbable and very unpleasant bloodfest There's only minimal tension throughout as it's pretty obvious who will be behind what's happening and we know from the prologue that Donnie will survive In the place of tension we get very graphic violence instead I also didn't think the shifts between the past and present and later between alternative perspectives really worked There was the makings of a good thriller here but unfortunately the author doesn't uite pull it off You thought you could leave the past behindThink againDonnie Miller counts himself lucky Living in a beautiful spacious house in the wild and remote landscape of central Canada he spends his days writing for the local newspaper working on a film script and acting as house husband After a troubled and impoverished upbringing in Scotland he now has all he wants a caring wife a bright and happy son a generous father in law As the brutal northern winter begins to bite he can sit back and enjoy lifeBut his peace is soon broken There are noises in the nearby woods signs of some mysterious watcher When the family dog disappears Donnie makes a horrifying discovery Is it wolves as the police suspect or something far dangerous far darker What secrets has Donnie been keeping And why does he have the terrible sense that his dream was never going to lastA taut shocking and visceral novel that will leave you gasping for breath Cold Hands is the first thriller by the remarkable John Niven This thriller starts out well enough with Donnie recounting the horrible events that made him the wreck he is at the beginning of the book Since this means he survived whatever happened the only uestion is what happened and why Scene wintry Saskatchewan a happy family of three living a life of leisure Donnie the house husband has a deep dark secret from his past in Scotland which is revealed in flashbacks though it's obvious what the secret is from the very first hints Now I don't consider what I'm about to say a spoiler I wish I had known this stuff before I started reading but just in case if you want to read the book with no preconception maybe stop now There is lots of foreboding so it comes as no surprise when the family dog is found eviscerated So far so good but then the bodies start piling up and all tension goes out the window It's a very simple revenge story with a ludicrous horror movie villain The last third of the book consists of elaborate torture scenes and no I am not bloody faint of heart nor did I find it shocking It was tedious and silly and since the characters were so poorly drawn I didn't give a damn about them getting hacked up and shotI'm sure this book has an audience and if you enjoy the whole superhuman killer flaying innocents thing this will be right up your alley Me I went in expecting something interesting and less predictable and was thus disappointed John Niven is perhaps better known for darkly witty satires ‘Kill Your Friends’ ‘The Amateurs’ and ‘The Second Coming’ so I was interested to read this his first foray into the world of crime writing with the skilful insertion of a ‘J’ to differentiate this from his normal fare And what a completely gripping criminal smorgasbord of brilliant and blood soaked delights it is as you find yourself in the words of Irvine Welsh “trampling through a moral minefield” Donnie Miller leads an unassuming life in a remote area of Canada in an absolutely beautiful house with his upwardly mobile and loaded wife his young son and whiles away his time as a film reviewer for the local newspaper fortuitously part of the empire of his father in law The only signs of strain in Donnie’s life is fitting into the influential circles his wife moves in but this is a minor problem as Donnie’s past will come back to haunt him with devastating conseuences for himself and his family By carefully interweaving the events of Donnie’s youth growing up in the relative poverty and social deprivation of Scotland the story is punctuated throughout by positively Irvine Welsh esue interludes depicting his cruel actions as a member of a gang intent on bullying and victimising a boy who epitomises everything they are not Written in vernacular and in a blunt brutal but ultimately uite affecting style these interludes put the character of Donnie at odds with his portrayal now as a family man and this for me works perfectly within the structure of the book There is also a very poignant portrayal of his would be attacker as their world has been shattered by the event s of this childhood and we bear witness to them rebuilding their life plotting and scheming to avenge the crimes of the past It becomes obvious to the reader that Donnie’s peace will be shattered and yes you do have to suspend your disbelief somewhat at this point as the past violently catches up with him in an explosion of revenge and hatred from a very unlikely aggressor and you find your whole perception of Donnie as a good guy challenged at every turn I liked the way that by depicting Donnie as a film reviewer Niven then sets out to make the denouement of the novel descend into the most brilliant and unbelievable violence mirroring the ‘schlock horror’ of some of the best straight to DVD films so that as a reader you are metaphorically looking through your fingers as the violence is ramped up further but remains as compulsive as it is unbelievable Therein lies my warning to the sensitive reader that this is not one for the faint hearted and if Danny Boyle is looking for a new film project after his Olympic shennanigans I think that he and Niven could have a great collaborative effort bringing this to the big screen Despite its slight faults this was a totally enjoyable although blood soaked read and with the promise of another thriller or two appearing in the next couple of years I can’t wait to see what Niven comes up with next Three stars is sort of a catch all for me and I often wish I could give 35 stars But this book just scrapes in at 3 stars In part I'm sure because thrillers are not really my preferred genre but also because I couldn't work out if the book takes itself seriously or not There are enough hints at the meta level to indicate that the author knows exactly what he is doing and is just having fun But there's also a painful backstory that invokes similar cases in real life and I wonder if the author couldn't uite execute his idea and said To hell with it let's just go crazyThe book started a bit slow but with a lot of foreshadowing and hints that were at times too obvious About a hundred pages in it suddenly went into high gear and it was like it became a different genre I expected the book to be scary or nerve wrecking instead it made me at first uncomfortable and sad And then it went wild with the B movie style gore fest violence and the most unbelievable killer ever and a drawn out ending Well composed but a bit obvious I had a few moments of I see what you did there but mostly it was I see where you are going here Except where it left all realms of probability and even that eventually became predictable Ultimately not really my thing and I just wanted it to end Fortunately it was under 300 pages and I didn't feel like lingering on the gory details so I got through the book uite uickly I've read all but one of John Niven's novels which are pretty diverse in subject and sometimes hard hitting but until now I'd avoided this his first foray into crime thriller writing under the moniker John J Niven The blurb sold the book as a page turner and in general this is what I foundTold from the point of view of Donald Miller a Scottish journalist working for a Canadian provincial newspaper of which his wife is the editor we are introduced to a character who seemingly has it all in life Interspersed with the now we find out pretty early on that things back home in Scotland weren't so straightforward for him life changing events during his early teenage years eventually becoming apparent And now his past is about to catch up with himAs mentioned this was a perfectly enjoyable page turner that I finished in no time whose story didn't have me shaking my head in disbelief too many times but was still a little far fetched in places It played out or less how I expected it to and while I'll not necessarily be rushing out to buy any further crime novels from the author on release in future I'll certainly give them a rattle when they come out in paperback I've enjoyed John Niven's other novels and thrillers are a dirty little joy of mine How would someone who basks in dark humor and vulgarity handle this genre? The answer surprisingly well The narrator sets about retelling his grisly past via frame story with occasional flashbacks to his childhood explaining his dark past You don't spend the entire book wondering who the killer is but that's not what this is about anyway This is a tale of survival endurance and what it means to live through the unspeakable Niven is a visceral haunting writer and I hope to read from him soon I rated this book a 4star as I 'enjoyed' the read as I couldn't put it down The style of writing does just make you want to keep going which i love in a book That said I felt that the gruesome details were somewhat unnecessary in order to create the tension and that this was the authors way of horrifying the reader It becomes apparent about half way through how the past has indeed caught up with him however the culmination of events does become rather unbelievable If you are not too faint hearted then it is a good read A strange one Not very thrilling for a thriller and there are far too many coincidences in the plot but it's still oddly readable with an interesting narrator Worth a read but probably not a re read Excellent gripping read I love they way John Niven writes

About the Author: John Niven

Born in Irvine Ayrshire Niven read English Literature at Glasgow University graduating in 1991 with First Class honours For the next ten years he worked for a variety of record companies including London Records and Independiente He left the music industry to write full time in 2002 and published his debut novella Music from Big Pink in 2005 Continuum Press The novella was optioned for t