The Frozen Dead by Bernard Minier – a review

As I mentioned previously in a review, I am not usually a big fan of translated novels, and probably wouldn’t normally pick them out of choice. However the recent books I’ve read haven’t really blown me away, the last really good book I read was by Pierre Lemaitre and translated from French. Therefore when picking a book off of my rather large ‘to be read’ pile for a trip to Liverpool, I decided to go with another translated novel, this time Bernard Minier. There is a session entitled France Noir – Le Roman Policier at the festival and both these authors are speaking in that.

The story starts with the discovery of a horse that has been killed and hung off a cliff alongside a cable car track that leads up to a remote power plant. When policeman Servaz is asked to investigate he is understandably rather annoyed that he has been asked to look into the murder of an animal. However, then a body turns up and with it the DNA of a notorious serial killer who is an inmate at a nearby asylum. The asylum has a new member of staff, psychologist Diane who is sent up to study the inmates. However she soon succumbs to the cold and isolation of being up the frozen Pyrenees and finds the job is more difficult than she imagined.

The Frozen Dead was Bernard Minier’s first crime novel, and was superb. The story is set in the Pyrenees, and the novel is a great one to read on a hot day as the descriptions of the mountains, the snow and the avalanches really do make the chills come alive. The characters themselves were quite interesting, if perhaps a little clichéd with the divorced detective, the wayward daughter, the lesbian sidekick and the happy family man whose good with computers. However none of this detracts from the story and things throughout the book are never quite what they seem.

The story itself is very intriguing and the way that the strands all fit together towards the end was very clever. I really liked the style of writing, despite a couple of bits where the translation was a bit confusing. The descriptions were pleasingly graphic, and although it wasn’t a huge stretch to guess some of the outcomes there were still enough red-herrings to make it interesting. Although it is a bit of a long book, it seemed to me to be very fast paced and kept my attention right to the end. There were a few loose ends so it was clearly setting up the start of a next novel but I for one for will definitely be looking out for that.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I can honestly say that I will no longer shy away from translated novels in the future.

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