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on 17 May 2012
The character of Inspector 'Jack' Frost was created by the successful radio dramatist R D (Rodney) Wingfield, who died in 2007. The first Frost novel - 'Frost at Christmas' - was written in the early 1970s, but was rejected by the commissioning publisher. It was eventually published in Canada in 1984, but didn't appear in Britain until 1989. Five more novels followed: A Touch of Frost (produced as a radio play in 1987 and published as a novel in 1990), Night Frost (1992), Hard Frost (1995), Winter Frost (1999) and A Killing Frost (published posthumously in 2008). David Jason was an early fan of the novels and was largely responsible for bringing Frost to television in 1992, as a vehicle for his move towards more serious and dramatic roles in his illustrious acting career.

'What's all this got to do with the new novel?' I hear you quite reasonably ask. Well, quite a bit, actually, so please bear with me for another paragraph. To appeal to a primetime TV audience, Frost's character was softened considerably. The TV Frost was not the Frost of the books, though both were excellent in their way. Wingfield's Frost had a gritty realism, and the books reflected the dark and macabre humour which provides a safety valve from the stresses of what can often be a deeply unpleasant job. Wingfield claimed to have watched only one episode of 'A Touch of Frost', saying that while he had nothing against David Jason as an actor 'he just isn't my Frost'. And that's the point - there are two significantly different Frosts, and the Frost of the books is a substantially darker and more complex character.

After Wingfield's death in 2007, the executors of his estate commissioned James Gurbutt and Henry Sutton (hence the nom-de-plume 'James Henry') to produce a further Frost novel, and this appeared as 'First Frost' in 2011. Wisely, this didn't simply follow on from Wingfield's last novel; it was a prequel, set in 1981, when Frost was a Sergeant and Superintendent Mullet was just settling in to his new post at Denton. It was, in my view, a five-star crime novel, capturing Wingfield's style of writing with almost uncanny accuracy, and fully matching the bleak and gritty standard of Wingfield's own novels.

'Fatal Frost' is a second prequel, set in the early summer of 1982. Denton is chronically understaffed, and is struggling to cope with a spate of burglaries and to pacify the affronted residents of a block of flats overlooking the rear of Denton's newly-opened massage parlour. An elderly local walking his dog in Denton Woods discovers the body of a 15-year-girl near the foot of a railway embankment, and before the investigation into this death is properly under way, the body of another 15-year-old is found on a green at Denton's newly extended golf club, during the re-opening celebrations attended (of course!) by Superintendent Mullet. This time, however, the body is naked, male, missing several of its organs and arranged in a form suggesting a pentagram. Once again, the writing (this time by James Gurbutt alone) is pure Wingfield; the dark humour crackles and in the usual Frost style the strands of the various enquiries intersect and overlap without appearing to reveal any discernible pattern.

THe novel has all of the classic ingredients of the series, and is a rollocking good read, well worth the extremely low price asked by Amazon at the time of publication. But .... in restrospect, it wasn't completely satisfying. Having thought about my reaction for a couple of days, I've come to the conclusion that the plotting isn't quite up to scratch. This isn't a spoiler - the solution is as well obscured by red herrings as you would expect - but when you reach the end you're left wondering why anyone would commit a premeditated murder in circumstances which generate such an extremely high risk of discovery. Perhaps you won't agree, but even if you do I don't think you'll regret your purchase. I feel guilty for offering only four stars, but that's the way I feel - though it doesn't stop me from eagerly awaiting the next book in the series!
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on 9 June 2012
Having read all of R.D. Wingfields Frost novels, I really wasn't sure that this could measure up to the original standard of Wingfield, but how wrong was I - this still made me chuckle in all the right places, as Frost got up to his old antics with Mullet etc. The storyline was good, and in true Frost style, he had 2 or 3 murders pending, which he dealt with in his own chaotic style! It was great.

James Henry has definitely captured R.D. Wingfields style, making this a real page turner from start to finish. I certainly look forward to reading more from this author whether it be another Frost novel or a novel of his own making. Well done that man....
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on 26 May 2012
Excellently plotted, with a thrilling climax, this is a cracker of a read. There's plenty to enjoy here. First and foremost is the young Frost himself. Being the kind of cop who's more interested in justice than the law, and rates results over bureaucracy, he's a character you warm to right away. He's every bit as canny as you'd expect from the Wingfield books and TV shows, but in this outing he's also armed with the kind of one liners Elmore Leonard would be proud of. He's brilliantly flawed. The first time we meet him, he's fiddling his expenses. And, throughout the book, he's brilliantly inept when it comes to dealing with the needs of the women in his life. As a result, he feels refreshingly real. Which is just as well, because there's plenty of harsh reality in this novel too. A gruesome series of apparently disconnected murders. Racism within the police force. Nothing's shied away from here. The icing on the cake, though, is that, as well as this being a deeply satisfying crime novel, it's also a cracking trip back to the 80's. The author doesn't overdo the nostalgia, but it all adds to the ride. I missed the decade as well as young Frost the second I turned the last page.
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VINE VOICEon 27 June 2012
It is 1982, the world is focussing on events happening on islands at the bottom of the South Atlantic. But in Denton, the locals are focussing on something much closer to home, a murder. A young girl is found in woodland near a railway track. A first glance suicide?

Then whilst enjoying a round of golf at the new refurbished club house and course Superintendent Mullet is called to something at the ninth hole - a body, this time a young boy, positioned in a particular and peculiar way.

Detective Sergeant 'Jack' Frost and his colleagues are busy working on a spate of burglaries which happen to be rife in Denton. Resources are split thinner when these bodies appear and the hunt is now on for the killer.

With officers off sick, and on courses for new fangled computer equipment and the introduction of the area's first 'black' officer, tensions are running high. This is a CID which thinks nothing of a few pints at lunchtime and going back to work. Of smoking in offices, and using rather heavy handed tactics with suspects. This is very much a police force of the 1980s, one that lives up to stereotypes but has no doubt a large element of truth within in. The author captures it very well.

Personal lives of these officers seem to take a back seat, and when they try and reach out for something other than work, they find it has already gone. Work is their saviour especially in the case of DS Frost.

When the dead boy's sister goes missing, personal lives don't exist as time is now running out to solve this murder and link them if there is a link. But for Frost and his colleagues they need to juggle the burglaries and the rather dubious massage parlour which is under the spotlight. Superintendent Mullet wants answers to everything and now.

Can Frost make sense of this jumble and get a result? Only by reading the book will you inevitably find out.

And yes, if you think the name is familiar it is the same Frost that David Jason plays on the television. This is set before Frost became an inspector. You can obviously see the dislike Superintendent Mullet has of Frost and more than likely the way he conducts his investigations and his lack of paperwork. I am sure Frost made Inspector on his policing and not his paper pushing.

This is the second book in a prequel to R.D.Wingfield's original Frost novel and you have no need to have read these or the first, the book stands alone very well on its own.
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on 13 December 2012
The late R.D. Wingfield's famous scruffy detective lives on again in this the second book featuring the early investigations by Frost. It's 1982 and Frost is currently a Detective Sergeant though due to the absence of most of the higher ranks at Eagle Lane he's doing the job he'd eventually rise to in Wingfield's books. James Henry is the working name of a duo of writers attempting to capture the beloved character. It always seems to me that the character has had as many negative habits pinned to him as possible but with the mission of making the detective still likeable. He smokes so heavily even the smokers feel ill, he hardly changes his clothes even in a heatwave, rarely goes home, drinks on the job, though to be fair so does the rest of the squad-room and he's cheating on his wife. Really he's the only fully formed character in the book along with the heavily caricatured Mullett. They're polar opposites, equally disdainful of each other but the two of them are stuck together. It's a situation that sort of underpins the whole series and generates most of the amusement. The other characters don't really have a lot to them, which sadly includes the new guy, DS Waters, Denton's first black policeman. It's a strand that had potential but it never really goes anywhere and pulls its punches when touching on racism within the force during the 80s.
Fatal Frost is a very readable and entertaining police procedural, with several cases ongoing which sort of overlap in places. Looking in on a younger Frost is a great idea. The little touches of period detail tend to pop out of the narrative unexpectedly. It's a bit like driving over unseen speed bumps. They jolt you out of the story because they don't quite blend into the contemporary perspective. Two quid would have been two quid, and bins would have been bins, with no mention of what material they were both made out of. As someone who was thirteen at the time I can appreciate the nostalgia evoked but it does seem to have a slight retrospective feel to it that probably doesn't compare to books actually written in the 80s. It's not a big problem though. I'd certainly read any more books in the series. So crack open a can of Harp lager, reach for a pack of Rothmans (maybe not), stick Alison Moyet on the record player and dive into the 80s with that scruffy bloke with a dead cat in his car.
Review from an advanced reading copy.
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on 27 February 2013
I love Frost. I own, and have read three times in total, all the original Wingfield novels. I though James Henry's other book was also a fair attempt at bringing the character back to life - but this offering is no-where near being in the same league. It's too hackneyed, the stories are all regurgitations from previous novels just with different bad guys. Even the witches tack falls short of anything near rivetting. This is the first Frost I found difficult to finish, normally I can read one in 3/4 days - this took weeks of painful determination.
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on 29 March 2016
Having read quite a bit of very contemporary crime fiction recently I thought it would be nice to step back in time and see what the new authors had made of R D Wingfield’s famous “Jack” Frost. I was extremely impressed given that the book was actually released as recently as 2012 how the feel of the 80s was so credibly captured. From the frequent mentions of BEJAMs where I had my first ever gainful part-time employment to the need to find a payphone nostalgia was assured.

There’s obviously more to Frost than mere nostalgia though and the book delivers everything that we came to expect from the original books with all the favourite characters doing pretty much what you would expect in an excellent multi-threaded plot. There is all the old humour, the blissful lack of political correctness and good old fashioned police work to get your teeth into. The narration by Stephen Thorne gives just the right period feel to the audiobook.

It’s odd for those of us who loved the TV Series that R D Wingfield never liked the adaptation. I wonder if the new authors writing under the James Henry pen name were influenced by it at all.

Musing aside this was a very pleasant detour down memory lane. I think I’ll have to make the trip for the rest of the books at some point.
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This is another great book featuring one of my favourite detectives Detective Inspector Frost. I read all RD Wingfield's books before the television series featuring David Jason bought him into the nations homes and loved all of them. The original books are not as light as the tv series something which James Henry continued with his first prequel First Frost (DI Jack Frost).

In this outing Frost is coping with Mullet, dealing with some armed robberies before he has to investigate an apparent suicide in Denton. Meanwhile Britain is at war with Argentina, Frost smokes everywhere, drives a cortina and has to deal with the new 'race relations.' I didn't feel this outing was as dark as either the original series or First Frost but it was an enjoyable read and certainly faithful to Frost's character and style. Frost's marriage is in trouble and he is at a loss on how to handle the situation, he is always at work and going off at tangents to solve all the crimes in Denton. I am looking forward to his next outing; it is good to have the tie-in of a favourite detective with the 80's.
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on 2 April 2014
Lovers of R D Wingfield's work beware! This a television version of our beloved Jack Frost with none of the laugh out loud characterisations and clever entwining of different story lines. A very poor script.. Go back to the originals - there's where you'll find classic treatments of plot and principal characterers.
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on 3 March 2016
I enjoyed the book, and it held my attention. One of the features, and possibly flaws, of both the Wingfield and Henry Frost books is the number of separate threads running through them. So the reader, and Frost's character, have several crimes to follow through the narrative, as well as peripheral complications in Frost's flawed personal life. Midway through this one, I temporarily lost track of the plots and which characters belonged to which crimes. You do need to keep concentrating.
I find Henry's Frost almost a doppelgänger for Wingfield's, but not quite. Not enough to spoil the read. A bit like a Rory Bremner impression. The character is clearly recognisable, but not quite the original.
All in all though, I am glad that Henry picked up the mantle and gave me more Frost stories to enjoy. The best recommendation I can give is that I plan to buy more in the series.
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