Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Review of The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson (Penguin, 2005)
There is lots to like about The Cold Dish. The characterization, sense of place and prose are all excellent. Johnson places the reader into Absaroka County and its colourful and complex characters, its social relations, local politics, and myths and legends. All of the principle characters are very well drawn and there’s a good, even balance of strong male and female leads. The landscape is a character in itself, fully fleshed out and realised, and used to good effect. Johnson draws on his own long law enforcement career to detail the nuances of police procedure and cop dynamics and personalities. For the most part the plotting is very good, with the story unfolding at a nice pace, progressively becoming more complex and layered. Several plausible characters are all viable suspects, keeping the reader on their toes. However, in the last fifth of the book, the story becomes a little overly melodramatic and the resolution felt contrived to create a twist for the reader and just didn’t feel ‘right’ - difficult to discuss without spoilers, but it undermined what had been until then a really excellent read. Nevertheless, this is superior fare and well worth a read. I’m looking forward to reading the second book in the series - Death Without Company.