Book review: Where Blood Runs Cold by Giles Kristian
Brrrrrrr… I’m still shivering, two days after finishing the story.
For those of us lucky enough to live in a country where the coldest it normally gets is a day or two of snow before everything turns wet again, there is, I think, a fascination for places where it gets really cold, where winter is king. This story more than feeds that fascination: it positively avalanches it.
The basic storyline is straightforward: a father and daughter, on a skiing trip through Arctic Norway (why would anyone go on a skiing trip through Arctic Norway?) witness a double murder and are pursued by the killers. The father, Erik, succeeds in killing some of the pursuers but one of the hunters proves impossible to kill, relentlessly chasing them into the Arctic night.
It’s the cold that fills the story: the unbelievable, finger-numbing, heart clutching cold, leeching life and feeling and movement out of everything until all that remains are the tiny figures of Erik and Sofia skiing across, and through, a world of white.
The relentless killer, pursuing them through the white world, is something of a thriller trope but within this context he becomes something else: a metaphor and an embodiment of the killing cold, of winter as implacable death. Amid our concerns for global warming it’s worth remembering that the cold kills many many many more people than warmth: we came out of Africa and survive in the realms of frost only by employing all the ingenuity and toughness of which we are capable.
At one level a simple chase thriller, at another it’s an examination of human endurance in the face of implacable danger (I particularly enjoyed the unexpected appearance of a figure from Norse mythology because such endurance demands support from somewhere beyond the human).
A book that will leave you trembling, from tension and cold.