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book review - cold blood

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Introduction

Book review of Cold Blood by the author James Fleming The surname (he is Ian's nephew) and terse title might lead one to expect something purely commercial and hard-boiled of James Fleming's Cold Blood. But this sequel to White Blood, though in the thriller genre, is both more idiosyncratic and awkward than that. The tone is set on page one with the hero-narrator's introductory self-description: "I, Charlie Doig... six foot two, strong across the shoulders and through the loins." Set during the Russian revolution and its bloody aftermath, this is as much tongue-in-cheek historical romp as page-turning cliffhanger. ...read more.

Middle

Cold Blood tells the story of Doig's single-minded pursuit of Glebov across civil-warravaged Russia. First stop is St Petersburg, where, with his Mongolian sidekick, Kobi, he witnesses the Bolshevik seizure of power and discovers that Glebov has become one of the revolution's leaders, up there with Lenin and Trotsky. With the struggle of Red v White spreading across the land, Doig is forced to step up a gear in his pursuit of vengeance, assembling a ragbag troop of henchmen and women and commandeering an armoured train. Thus equipped, Doig will take on not only Glebov, but the whole of the Red Army. ...read more.

Conclusion

If writers can be divided into minimalists and maximalists, then Fleming is out there on the militant wing of the maximalists. Thrillers need variation of pace: moments when the grip is relaxed, the better to sock the reader with the unexpected. Fleming's relentless energy and garrulous black humour - as Doig and his band of eccentric ne'er-do-wells career across the steppes to an explosive denouement - produce flashes of brilliance, but at the expense of tension. Cold Blood has an original and talented voice behind it, but in the end perhaps goes to show that the comedy thriller is one of the trickiest of literary hybrids to pull off. Cold Blood by the author James Fleming ...read more.

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