Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Frost at Midnight – James Henry

Crime Fiction
4*s

For those who loved R.D. Wingfield’s original crime series featuring DI Frost, James Henry has recreated this dishevelled detective in earlier times; Frost at Midnight is the fourth prequel in the series.

It’s 1983 and Denton CID are confronted with a dead body on top of a tomb in the local graveyard, the case is instantly a PR nightmare as the body is Rachel Curtis, a domestic violence victim who acting under coercion was jailed for murder but had now been released early. Added to the now increased workload there are more immediate problems as Detective Sergeant Waters is getting married and he’s unable to attend the rehearsal with his best man Detective Inspector Jack Frost.

With the police station in a state of flux a the officers get to grips with the new-fangled computers and pagers everything is taking longer than it used to – Jack isn’t the only one who is sceptical of the use of these new additions to crime fighting. Superintendent Mullett, as ever, has his priorities at total odds with Frost and it is only thanks to the habitual nifty footwork in ignoring his orders that the team have any chance of solving the crime.

Meanwhile DC Sue Clarke has finally reached the end of her tether; looking after a baby and having Frost sleeping on her sofa following the death of his wife is not compatible with a good life. Sue wants to return to work but Mullett aka Hornrim Harry is reluctant. And then a prostitute goes missing leaving a young boy to fend for himself and CID need all the help that they can get.

I’ve enjoyed all the prequels that James Henry has written and found that the language and the characters have been kept faithful to the original books. The sense of time with all the accompanying misogyny and racism along with the emerging new technologies are present and correct and a huge amount of my enjoyment is on a nostalgic level. The plotting is well thought out with the sense of urgency mounting as the team try to wrap multiple strands of the investigation up before the wedding takes place. It isn’t just dead bodies and missing women, there is also the mystery of the missing money left by a newcomer to Denton in a cement mixer along with the ever-present worry of where Frost’s next meal is coming from! On that note the Frost in this book is more chaotic, even shabbier and perhaps a little less sharp although he has time to woo a couple of ladies (I’m really not sure of the appeal here) as he deals with his changed personal circumstances. In a modern crime book there would be trips to the force doctor and supportive colleagues discussing grief but this is 1983 and there is no doubt Frost is struggling without a single nod to mental health.

I’d like to say a huge thanks to Random House UK for allowing me to read a copy of Frost at Midnight which is another excellent prequel, one that kept me thoroughly entertained as Denton once more comes to life with all its myriad of characters and Frost’s caring and clever mind fighting to the fore.

First Published UK: 17 May 2017
Publisher: Bantam Press
No of Pages: 352
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

The Frost books Prequels and Originals

First Frost: (DI Jack Frost 1) (James Henry)
Fatal Frost: (DI Jack Frost 2) (James Henry)
Morning Frost: (DI Jack Frost 3) (James Henry)

Frost At Christmas: (DI Jack Frost Book 1) (R.D. Wingfield)
A Touch Of Frost: (DI Jack Frost Book 2)  (R.D. Wingfield)
Night Frost: (DI Jack Frost Book 3) (R.D. Wingfield)
Hard Frost: (DI Jack Frost Book 4)  (R.D. Wingfield)
Winter Frost: (DI Jack Frost Book 5) (R.D. Wingfield)
A Killing Frost: (DI Jack Frost Book 6)  (R.D. Wingfield)

Author:

A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

12 thoughts on “Frost at Midnight – James Henry

  1. Sometimes prequels don’t really do a good job of capturing the protagonist’s personality and so on, especially if they’re not written by the same person. I’m glad you didn’t find that to be the case here, Cleo. And I agree with you about the value of depicting times and attitudes authentically. It’s good to hear this one does that, too.

    1. I have enjoyed these prequels to a much loved series, James Henry really showed great dedication to the originals. The 1980s attitudes were spot on, sometimes it is easy to forget how much things have changed.

  2. How have I not heard of this series before. Perhaps I overlooked it. They sure sound like my kind of books. And I love it when the author takes you back to earlier times and cases.

  3. Interesting! I read a couple of the original series a million years ago, but hadn’t heard of the prequels. Like the sound of it, though wonder if I’d find the attitudes too maddening to enjoy! I wonder if there’s a difference between books written in periods where attitudes around racism and misogyny were different, and a modern writer looking back. Definitely worth checking out – thanks!

  4. I read (and loved) the R.D. Wingfield’s Frost novels, but I have never read any of James Henry’s titles. I’m happy to know that you like them.

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