January 17, 2014

Book: Night Frost by R D Wingfield

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 12:23 pm

imageThere is a genre of stories that shows a detective who bumbles all the time but stumbles on the truth, a kind of Don Quixote of the detective world who is successful despite his total bumbling. The famous Inspector Clouseau of the Pink Panther series is perhaps the most famous example. This book is reminiscent in some ways of that but not quite in the same category.

Here the chief character is Inspector Frost. He may be really skilled, one is never quite sure because he keeps dashing off on hunches and makes big bets on insufficient evidence. So, one is never sure if he is skilled or lucky. But he has his annoying quirks. He shirks work – so completely that he does not even want to get basic administrative work done. He is very slovenly and disheveled and also always makes raunchy and grossly inappropriate comments about everyone – colleagues, people involved in crime and even dead people that annoys everyone around him.

Frost is a centre of a whole series of books, this being just one of them.

In this book, into this world steps Frank Gilmore, who is a new detective promoted and transferred to Denton. He could not be more different even if he planned it meticulously and finds it appalling to work with Frost.

But the story has nice twists, reminding one of Jeffrey Deaver’s thrillers in some way.

There are multiple threads running through the story. For instance we find that letters are sent to people threatening to expose their secrets and totally  discredit them. We find  tombstones defaced. What could have been vandalism or pranks turns serious when girls start getting killed and burnt and raped.

Frank Gilmore’s Lisa is initially happy too. But he works under the slob of a detective Jack Frost, who thinks his boss Mr Mullet is an idiot and is his usual self, making lewd jokes that Frank finds totally distasteful and is generally sloppy in both appearance and work.  And he seems to keep no timings, dragging Frank along in all sorts of hours, making Lisa more and more unhappy with Frank.

On top of it, Frost seems to get easily distracted from the main priority, spending time in catching a porno shop owner on the fly.

Meanwhile the murders continue. One old lady was stabbed brutally and killed when intruder was surprised.

Frost bumbles along, foul mouthing, wisecracking, inefficient, until he notices something interesting : In the case of a paper delivery girl who was raped and killed. One of the papers that she was supposed not to have delivered has a tear in the folds consistent with delivery and return to the bag

He also correctly deduces who  the poison pen letter writer is, finding the typewriter hidden by a neighbour in a vain attempt to protect the culprit.

He catches the burgler who accidentally killed an old woman but then the other murders have not been committed by him and continue even after he is held. Everytime, of course, his superior Mullet thinks he has caught the mass murderer, and is upset when Frost points out that this is not the case.

How he finds wife involved in husband’s murder is very nice, when the mistress was being accused. You realize that Frost acts idiotic and seems to easily be charmed by every girl he meets but in reality, he does not let his sex instincts and fondness of the risqué quotes interfere with his sense of what is right and wrong.

Again, brilliant work in getting the mayor of the city to own up to the racket (child porn) he was conducting behind the scenes. He goes on to proceed on hunches, employs unorthodox and risky moves but they seem to pay off, and he catches the killer in the girls murder.

Towards the end an interesting, action packed finish.

As you can see, it is an interesting and entertaining read but this is in no way a thinking man’s book. The story is not woven tight with everything explained or clues followed. It is rather like James Bond movies. Better keep your brains in the locker when you read this.

In summary, a detective who does not want to read any reports (about the very crimes he is trying to solve) and jumps far out based on his hunches, in real life,  would be a disaster, and in a comedy he will be like Inspector Clouseau, as I mentioned .

This one? A talented detective in a serious thriller. Go figure.

Let us say 6/10


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