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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

First Frost by Henry James

R D Wingfield's curmudgeonly detective Jack Frost returns in the book which sets out to continue the late author's work by going back to the character's origins - First Frost is actually written by two authors, Henry Sutton and James Gurbett who go by the collective pen name of Henry James - I'd read and enjoyed the other three books they've written around the character of Jack Frost as created by the late R. D. Wingfield but until now this first book in the prequel series had escaped me.

Of course the TV version of Frost is so well known that it is impossible to read this book without conjuring up a vision of David Jason as our hero. It's the same with the Morse books - I defy anyone to read an Inspector Morse story and not have a mental picture of John Thaw. Mind you the Frost in this book is much younger than the original version, these books being prequels, so maybe it's a mental image of Dell Trotter that sticks in the mind. This may, in fact be fitting, since Frost's superior Mr Mullet is a right plonker!

R. D. Wingfield's Frost thrillers are much loved and the authors here have managed to capture the feel of the books as well as the popular TV series which still plays in repeats today. Of course the original author said of David Jason's portrayal of Frost in the TV series that the character was not his Frost, but the authors here have wisely in my opinion set their version somewhere between the character from the original books and the TV series. Now the character of Jack Frost was a troublesome creation and radio dramatist R D Wingfield struggled to get his first Frost novel into print.  Frost at Christmas failed to find a publisher for many years. It was written in the mid 1970's but  was eventually published in Canada in 1980,not appearing 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).

The rest is, as they say, history and these days Jack Frost is truly an iconic creation - the plot of this novel is typically chaotic and sees our hero tackling a missing child, spousal and child abuse, a rabies scare and an IRA threat.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and once started found it difficult to put down; finding myself turning the pages until well into the early hours.

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