Saturday, March 17, 2012

NIGHT FROST by R.D. Wingfield

There won't be enough Jack Frost books. I'll run out of books before I'm ready to be finished reading. The books are that good. 

In Night Frost, Detective Inspector Jack Frost and his new assistant, Sergeant Frank Gilmore, work nights during a flu epidemic. 

Over one week's time, they investigate an impossible array of crimes. Someone sends vicious, threatening notes to seemingly innocent victims. Someone else murders a teenaged newspaper carrier. A serial murderer knifes old women. A teenaged girl commits suicide. And someone kills a victim/suspect by clubbing him almost to death, then burning him up in a fire.

At the same time, gangs destroy a local pub. Frost and Gilmore stumble onto a pornography ring run by a prominent member of the police commission. And Frost and Gilmore, along with the other non-flu victims on the night shift, deal with all the ordinary things cops face.

Frost's superiors are stupidly bureaucratic. Frost himself is cynical, but not uncaring. He arranges things to spare the parents of one of his young victims. He hides the awful details of her death. 

Many mystery lovers know Jack Frost from books or TV. A Colombo-like character who is often a slob, he is actually a caring cynic. He still does what he can to protect the vulnerable and weak.

I've read a lot of police procedurals over the years. They are probably my favorites in the mystery genre.

What sets the Jack Frost books apart is that they give a sense of the impossibility of police work. The crimes keep coming. Police families sometimes fall apart.

I'm reminded of my work in the ministry (from which I'm now retired). There are those weeks with three funerals, six people in big city hospitals, and some other kinds of things I can't mention. Non-ministers can't understand the stress. And I'm sure other jobs are the same. 

The Jack Frost books show the stress of police work. Frost is unorthodox. Sometimes it stretches my belief how he can bully a murderer to confess, but. . . . 

As I said at the beginning, I will run out of these books before I am ready to be finished reading about Jack Frost.


Anonymous said...

Bravo, Joe - great review! I agree about running out of Jack Frost books far before being ready. Dang it!

Joe Barone said...

Thanks for cluing me in to these books.

Anonymous said...

It was a good trade, I learned about Reginald Hill from you and while you read Jane Langton, I read (and enjoyed) my first Ed McBain book. I like funny, so just re-read the Laurence Shames' "Bert-the-Shirt" novels.