So glad to be able to bring back Jake Boulder on Chocolate’n’Waffles!
Thank you so much to Emma at Bloodhound Books for inviting me to be part of the blog tour for this new installment of the series! This review is unbiased and based on my sole opinion.
Title: Die Cold
Author: Graham Smith
Date of publication: November 2018
Jake Boulder is working as a bartender, at an exclusive Vermont ski resort on New Year’s Eve, when armed terrorists hold up the lodge and take the guests hostage.
Trapped with the other hostages, Boulder watches in horror as the female terrorist leader disfigures a singer to make her point. He wants to fight back, but is unarmed and being held at gunpoint.
When Boulder finds a way to escape from the terrorists he searches for a way to raise the alarm. After he discovers the terrorists plan to leave no witnesses to their crime, he knows he has a race against time to save as many innocent people as he can…
But will Boulder be the reluctant hero and save the day?
It really is exciting to review a new book in a series you’ve been following and reading. Exciting and scary, as always. What if this time, I’m bored?
Ah ah. Jake Boulder doesn’t do boring. I’m pretty sure that even if he tried, he’d fail. His author always makes sure we get the best of this character. But even if Jake wants to avoid trouble, trouble always finds him…
I don’t like skiing. I love the cold as long as I can stay under a blanket in front of a good fire. I’d never book a holiday in the middle of nowhere with only a few escape paths. Being trapped by a snowstorm on a white top? NO WAY. This is probably why Graham Smith’s latest novel had me claustrophobic very early on! The setting, although beautiful I imagine, is described in such a detailed manner that you instantly understand the dangers, the issues. I mean, first, it’s cold! Then the snow is never your friend. But where in some other fiction, the setting would have only been brushed, in Die Cold, it is a character in itself. Something Jake Boulder has to fight against. As if he didn’t already have enough on his plate…
Because while snowflakes cut wealthy-people’s idea of a paradise holiday from the rest of the world, terrorists take over the place. I was skeptical when I read the word terrorist for the first time, dreading a religious side to the attack. Call it a scar from today’s society. But Graham Smith is smart, and he uses this fear to take it in another direction. A bunch of crazy but extremely professional and heavily armed people in charge for an unknown reason? My instinct was going crazy. I loved how the reader is not given access to every information. Like Jake, we are in the dark regarding the bad guys’ plans, the silence surrounding their mission being as deafening as the methods they use to get what they want. I could see the fear and rage on the hostages’ faces, the blood run cold in each body. Still, there is no respite in the narration. You witness events that trigger reactions, good and bad, from both sides.
Now, let’s chew the bigger piece of cake. Jake Boulder himself. A haunted man running from a past that he can’t make peace with, hoping his job as a bartender in the middle of nowhere will be enough to give him time to heal, or at least, to stop causing pain. But what broke my heart was the fact that Jake doesn’t realize he actually is the one in pain. Incapable of forgiving himself, forced to second-guess his thoughts and guts because of his past, Jake’s guilt follows him in the snow like a mosquito with a light. All that he wants is to forget, or at least pretend to. Be invisible. But can you really stay dead when lives are at stake and you can help? How do you help when your confidence is shattered? What do you rely on when you are not sure of anything anymore? The questioning going on throughout the novel makes it different from other adrenaline-fuelled novels. Jake doesn’t want to be James Bond. He is never sure his decisions are the right ones. He doesn’t want to kill. I was amazed at how Graham Smith uses guilt as a weapon against his own character, and how as minutes tick by, Jake’s train of thoughts evolves so that the fear of doing wrong is wiped out by the need and desire to make things right. You can SEE it happening. Jake doesn’t want to add a name to the list of dead bodies he’s responsible for, but how long can you spare the bad ones if they don’t play by the rules and are a real threat to innocent people? Would I stick to my shell and say ‘not my problem’? I don’t know, but exploring Jake’s mental fights was as captivating as the game between him and the terrorists.
Plot-wise, Graham Smith hits hard! We get a few characters’ perspective, all in a different situation. We get the shock of the attack, the tension of the never-ending moments when all you can do is wait for rescue, the stress of a plan being carried out step after step, the surprise you’d rather do without. I feared for my dear friend Sharon, a wonderful guest in this fab read (read her review here!)
Die Cold is a brilliantly freezing and addictive read that is not to be confused with an all-action-big-muscle-dull-characters fiction. Gripping and spot-on, it offers a heart-stopping look at what it takes to fight the big evil. One man against many. I cannot wait to meet Jake again!
Die Cold is out now! Get your dose of cold from Amazon!
Graham Smith is a time served joiner who has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000, he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.
He is an internationally best-selling Kindle author and has six books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team, and four novels, featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder.
An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009
Graham is the founder of Crime and Publishment, a weekend of crime-writing classes which includes the chance for attendees to pitch their novels to agents and publishers. Since the first weekend in 2013, ten attendees have gone on to sign publishing contracts.
Social Media Links:
Twitter https://twitter.com/GrahamSmith1972 @GrahamSmith1972