This was one of the hardest book I’ve read in a long-time purely because of the subject matter, child abuse by a suave, determined paedophile who is in a position of power. Fortunately though, having been written by a former Police Officer and Social Worker it is impeccably researched and backed up by his professional experience.
Dr David Galbraith is the first character we meet, he is a child psychologist and the ring-leader of a paedophile ring, and he has an obsession with an eight year-old boy. I won’t deny that the details in the first chapter nearly had me set the book aside but fortunately the rest of the book doesn’t go into the details of the abuse rather it is an exploration of Dr Galbraith’s character viewed by the reader through his interactions with his PA, wife and young daughters as well as those with his patients and their parents, guardians and carers. These different faces that this arrogant and determined man shows the world with his innermost thoughts relayed to the reader that kept me gripped. In this respect it is rare to find a book that goes beyond the text-book definitions, John Nicholl has gone a step further and produced a ‘real-life’ monster resulting in a truly sinister character.
Fortunately we have some good characters in this book to balance out the evil Dr Galbraith. From these viewpoints we see the background to both the investigation and the multiple agencies involved when there is a suspicion of child abuse. Watching from the side-lines, so to speak, of these good people making decisions which will directly impact one young child, the tension ramps up to an almost unbearable level. Of course, as a reader we have pieces of the puzzle that these men and women don’t.
If you like your reads to be set at a fair old pace, this is a book that ticks that box without a doubt. Despite my initial reservations about the subject matter and the feeling of discomfort that lingered even when the book was set aside for real life, I was desperately keen to pick it up again and find out what was going to happen next which meant that I read some of this in short snatches in-between other activities. I know some of you read like this most of the time but I prefer to settle down with a book only when I have a reasonable stretch of time to do so – it really is a measure of quite how compelling the different stories within this book were that I over-rode that rule.
Leaving aside the despicable Dr Galbraith the other characters were well-drawn although if I were being hyper-critical some of the police et al lacked some depth probably because to focus too much on these would have interrupted the pace of the book. However even those viewed purely through Dr Galbraith’s eyes were realistic, his wife and PA particularly so because they were being seen through a distorted lens, a great achievement.
I am really glad I read this book although it will take me quite some time before I will forget some of the disturbing views it explored and I really appreciated the fine line the author trod to ensure that this didn’t become gratuitous. White is the Coldest Colour was published in April 2015 and I bought my copy after reading a number of great reviews by fellow bloggers.