As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Quercus in hardback, 26 February 2014. ISBN: 978-1-84866-975-8
The setting is eastern Europe; the crimes are violent, extreme and
graphically described. Neither of these are factors that would normally draw me
to a book.
But sometimes it does you
good to move outside your comfort zone. Not that comfortable is a word that
could ever be applied here; the first twenty pages include drugs, prostitutes,
gangsters, rape, a lot of vodka and even more blood, gore and vomit, and one of
the most sadistic and horrific mutilations of a dead body that I’ve ever
encountered in crime fiction.
But I’m a sucker for good
writing, and though I can’t call this debut novel entertaining, it’s certainly
very well written, sometimes with an almost poetic quality. The richness of the
prosegrabbed me and carried me along
until eventually – and not very far in – I simply needed to finish it to find
out what was going on.
And a lot was going on. That
graphic murder in the opening chapters was only the start of a chain of events
which plunged the protagonist into a trail of bodies and a complex web of
intrigue. Briefly: Inspector Akyl Borubaev, ace detective of the Kyrgyzstan
Murder Squad, still mourning his dead wife, sets out to find the killer of a
top government minister’s daughter, and finds the path leads not only to the
dark underworld but also deep into the tangle of loyalties and enmities that
passes for a political system in that part of the world. Everyone has an
agenda; no one can be trusted; danger lies round every corner.
Akyl is possibly the only
character in the book who shows more than one side to his personality, though
others, notably his uncle-in-law Kursan, a big noise in the rural underworld,
and Saltanat, a beautiful security services officer, are vividly portrayed and
high visual. Others, and there are many, step in and out of the shadows, and
for the most part are bad guys of one kind or another.
But the book is not about
character, it’s aboutthe darker side of
a way of life, and on that score Tom Callaghan has clearly done his homework.
His evocation of the bitter Kyrgyz winter made me shiver, and the descriptions
of the bleak living conditions of the country’s less fortunate people turned my
stomach when they weren’t bringing tears to my eyes. His accounts of
labyrinthine eastern European politics did not offer clarity, but they did make
it plain how best to deal with the situation: trust no one and keep your head
A Killing Winter is a highly accomplished debut – not for the
faint-hearted, and definitely not for loves of ‘cosy’ crime novels, but
excellent of its kind nonetheless. Tom Callaghan is a name to watch.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Tom Callagham was bornin the North of England and educated at the University of York and
Vassar College, New York. After graduating, Tom joined Saatchi & Saatchi, working for several
years in London, New York and Philadelphia as a Creative Group Head, before
joining the newly-formed M&C Saatchi. After living in Singapore where he
pursued interests outside advertising, he moved to Dubai, where he worked as
Creative Director for one of the region’s leading boutique agencies.
An inveterate traveller, he divides his time
between London, Prague, Dubai and Bishkek
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen,
and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but
never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher
for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now
burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with
books, about half of them crime fiction.