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on 6 May 2011
Well this was a bit of a departure from the norm, a Pyke mystery with a distinct Celtic flavour!

I found the fist chapter or two completely disorientating if I'm honest as the author has two story threads. Part one being Pyke is called to Merthyr Tydfil to investigate the kidknapping of a young boy. Part two sees young Irish Constable Knox investigating the death of what seems to a detective from London! whose corpse has ended up in Tipperary. But this thread is set a couple of months into the future. The author then switches from one story line to the other till they gradually begin to jion up.

Readers should know young constable Knox is given as much story time as Pyke himself so this had a very different feel to a typical Pyke mystery and again I have to confess the first 100 pages did drag a bit for this reader at least and only my faith in the author and affection for Pyke kept me going. But I am very glad I did because the last two thirds were brilliant!!

Expect lots of architypically evil landowners, lords and industrialists riding rough shod over the down trodden common man. Expect the gutter skirmishes of the poorest of the poor trying to just survive. And of course as this is Pyke, expect a grim, tragic and violent story full of murder and civil unrest.

I will say nothing else re the story line, as to do so would inevitably add in a bit of spoiling and that's the last thing you want when reading a detective story!

Pepper I think also makes a pretty serious effort to illustrate the Irish famine and the many thousands who died from the hunger and cold whilst a seemingly uncaring landed gentry of absentee landlords and the British Whig government of the day stood back offering no aid. Whilst this was well done and was shocking and tragic just did seem a little out of place in a Pyke story. However having got this message in and set a suitably grim historical backdrop Pepper gets back to what he does best, a couple of hundred pages of twisting plot and stomach churning confrontation.

Good stuff and I await with interest where the author will go now!
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on 6 June 2011
If this is to be the last time that Pyke pounds the beat ,then Andrew Pepper has sent him on his way with his best mystery for our Detective Inspector of Scotland Yard to solve. I love the way we had the two stories running in tandem and once again Andrew Pepper uses his great in-depth research of the period to take us into the heart of the Irish famine,where a supposed body of a vagrant is discovered in a ditch,is wearing a Savile Row suit and then at the same time he drops us deep into the furnesses of the Ironworks of Merthyr Tydfil where Pyke lured by a promise of a substantial reward has to find the son of a wealthy industrialist who has been kidnapped.As with the rest of the Pyke novels,it drips with atmospheric detail of a pre-Victorian murder mystry that had me griped from the beinning to the end.I am looking forward to see what Andrew Pepper does next and if it is half as good as Pyke has been then we will not be disappointed.
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December, 1846. Detective Inspector Pyke travels from London to Merthyr Tydfil to investigate the kidnapping of the son of a wealthy industrialist. Once there, he finds the town on the brink of civil unrest, following the brutal suppression of a worker's strike and the importation of cheap Irish labour.

One month later in Ireland, a young policeman, Knox, is given the job of investigating the murder of a man found lying in a ditch. Gradually it becomes clear that there is a link between this murder and the events in Merthyr Tydfil. But the solution is a complex one, and more than one life will be destroyed during this harsh winter.

The way the narrative jumps forwards and backwards between Wales and Ireland is initially a little confusing, but once the story gets going it's a device that works very well.

Bloody Winter is a complex, bleak novel with a hint of redemption at the end. Another impressive book from the pen of Andrew Pepper.
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on 9 February 2014
Thank you so much Andrew Pepper for such a great book. Wow factor. I wish I could give it 6 out of 5.

I am a great fan of this series and adore the main character Pyke. One of the main events that stands out for me, in this particular story, is the realistic version the author gives us of the Irish Potato Famine. Very atmospheric and grim. As for the plot with Pyke, spot on. Another intriguing tale of this roguish character and his antics.

I highly recommend this entire series. I have bitten my nails through them all.
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on 24 May 2011
To be fair I havent got to the end of this Pike novel yet but the format is certainly the most intriguing I have come across in years as the action moves from Merthyr Tydfil to Ireland and back again in a myriad of consecutive but shifting dates so that while Pike is investigating a child kidnapping in Merthyr he is himself apparently found dead in Ireland.To be continued...... The settings are vividly depicted in a poverty stricken Ireland and a relatively prosperous steel works in Wales in the grim winter of 1846-1847.Gripping stuff.
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on 9 July 2011
I have enjoyed the evolution of Pyke and find his charactor and timeline intersting. The author is able to transport the essence of the time, place and opinions, moods of the period. In fact, Pyke is one of my litery hero's as is Dirk Pitt in Clive Cusslers stories, both are always in life and death situatons and we're all getting older. The author's discription of an early morning micturation is so accurate and any 45+year old male would appreciate this discription. As previous reviews reflect, the first parts of the story flit back and forth between time and location, simmler to that of Alex Scarrows reads. Being from the area I am aware of the authors literary licence on local areas and history. He did discribe what went on in these two countries at that time (you wonder why us Celts are not always Saxon Friendly!).
I'll always enjoy the Pyke storys. Will the future hold much. New storylines, hero's, locations.....
P.S what about his allotment post Kill water & Devil?
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on 23 June 2011
As stated in other reviews this book was something of a departure from the usual Pyke stories, that it was still very good reading even with the Irish potatoe famines of the 1840s is purely down to Andrew Pepper's fine writing. Granted the book dragged in some places and the switching from Wales to Ireland got a bit confusing the central theme proves to be an illusion anyway. Can't say it was the best book I've read in the series and the ending leaves us wondering what next for Pyke? Still a good read though.
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on 9 October 2014
This is excellent. Andrew Pepper writes extremely well. Tension and poignancy run throughout this novel, and the author has a firm grasp of historical fact. The plot is very cleverly constructed, comprising a narrative of the investigations of two detectives in two separate countries, and their individual reactions to broadly similar events.
Although the character delineation doesn't match that of, say, Andrew Martin in the Jim Stringer series, we become totally involved in the experiences of the two central characters.
Compelling reading. Strongly recommended.
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on 3 February 2016
Love the Pyke Mystery books but this is my least favourite. Didn't like the story being told on two different timelines by two separate characters, also didn't like a long standing character being killed needlessly. Okay in keeping the Pyke story continuing but hard read.
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on 22 July 2012
The latest Pyke Mystery, (no5 I think) really good book, violent & historically vivid as ever, with a twist.
You could say he is like a Victorian James Bond, but slightly rougher around the edges!
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