The Frozen Dead
Set in the French Pyrenees in December, the story is told from two points of view. Commandant Martin Servaz from Toulouse has been called in to investigate the grotesque display of an expensive horse, beheaded and hung in a manner intended to shock and disturb. Servaz is the main focus, but a young psychologist who arrives at an isolated and experimental asylum for the the criminally also has a role in imparting the story.
Initially, Servaz is surprised and annoyed to be investigating the death of a horse, but since the horse belonged to a French billionaire, the powers-that-be are applying pressure. Servaz is shocked and distressed when he sees the dead horse suspended over the valley. What kind of mind could have dreamed up this horror?
Because the event occurs so close to the asylum, he wonders if an inmate could have escaped, but apparently all the inmates are accounted for. Soon enough, the first of several human murders takes place, the bodies left hanging in a similar ghastly manner. As the case becomes more ominous and complex, Servaz and his team struggle to find the connections.
Suspenseful and twisty. The author kept the atmosphere dark and oppressive, but several of the characters are very likable and lighten things up a bit. Servaz is a more believable character than Diane Berg, the young psychologist; it is interesting that Minier does not have the two interact at all until the end of the novel. Servaz' narrative dominates, but Berg's shorter narratives are interspersed throughout. At first, I was expecting a romantic angle between the two, but I'm glad Minier didn't succumb to that possibility.
When the crime is solved, the novel is not quite over. Maybe it should have been. Instead, Minier allows for a Christmas celebration and a complication for the next novel in the series.
The novel read so smoothly, I looked for the translator. It wasn't listed on the U.S. Amazon site, but I found Allison Anderson listed as the translator on the U.K. site. Translators are crucial, and Anderson did an excellent job.
This is the first of Minier's novels featuring Commandant Servaz, and the French publication was in 2011. This translation is to be released in August, 2014.
read in May; blog review scheduled for July 21.
NetGalley/St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books
Crime/Police Procedural/Psychological. Aug. 12, 2014. Print length: 496 pages.