Thursday, June 27, 2013

R. D. Wingfield A Touch of Frost (1987)

     R. D. Wingfield A Touch of Frost (1987) Frost, frowzy, rumpled, foul-mouthed, rebellious, stubborn, too fond of alcohol and cholesterol-laden food, perpetual ignorer of rules and regulations, hater of paperwork, but a detective who gets results, which frosts his Division Commander Mullet and his rival Inspector Allen. The novel begins with a dead drug addict floating in diluted piss in a public convenience. He didn’t drown, he was murdered, but only Frost (who knows all the most disreputable people in Denton) cares. There’s another murder, a string of burglaries, a couple of rapes, and finally a stand-off with a hostage taker, who’s shot just as Frost is about to disarm him. Frost solves all the cases, and wins the respect of the demoted former inspector who’s been unloaded on him. The vision is bleak, but Frost’s compassion for the weak and damaged, and his obsession with truth gives us some hope. Mullett is a right bastard; for him, policing is merely a means to gratify his social climbing ambitions. Wingfield savages Insp. Allen’s obsession with correct police methods. Every character’s back story reveals weaknesses and sometimes vices. Policing is a chaotic mess. In short, the novel has the ring of truth. **½

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