Title: Hard Cold Winter
Author: Glen Erik Hamilton
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication Date: 7 April 2016
I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley
Former Army Ranger and thief Van Shaw is thrust into a maelstrom of danger as lethal and unpredictable as the war he left behind in this emotionally powerful and gritty follow up to the acclaimed debut Past Crimes.
When an old crony of Van Shaw’s late grandfather calls in a favor, he embarks on a journey deep into the remote forest of the Olympic Mountains in search of a missing girl tied to his own criminal past.
Discovering a brutal murder scene, Van finds himself caught between a billionaire businessman on the one side and vicious gangsters on the other.
In an attempt to survive Van will have to face some of the toughest questions of his life, not least over his relationship with his iron willed girlfriend, Luce. But with the clock ticking, a desperate Van may just need every ally he can get, especially as someone prepares to unleash a firestorm on Seattle that could burn them all to ashes.
Now this is my kind of book. I enjoy books from a wide range of subgenres under the Mystery and Thrillers umbrella, but there is one type of book that I always enjoy the most. Those fast-paced, action-packed stories with a strong and capable, yet also engaging, main character who gets dragged into a mystery are what I am always looking for when I pick up books. Hard Cold Winter ticked absolutely every single one of the boxes for me.
Hard Cold Winter is Glen Erik Hamilton’s second novel to feature former soldier and ex-thief Van Shaw. Van is called in by one of his late grandfather’s friends to investigate why his niece Elana hasn’t turned up for work, he finds both Elana and her boyfriend, the son of a prominent family, have been shot dead. The more Van looks into Elana’s death however, the more he is convinced that not everything is as it seems.
I really enjoyed the character of Van Shaw. Even though Hard Cold Winter is the second book in the series and I’ve obviously missed out on quite a lot of character development from the first one, I felt like I really engaged with Van. He has an intriguing back story and he is a real kick-ass character. He is definitely a character that I would like to see a lot more of, along with Leo Pak who was one of the more interesting secondary characters I’ve come across recently. I also really enjoyed the intermittent flashbacks throughout the book because they shed a bit of light into Van and Elana’s relationship and therefore helped me understand Van’s motivations for what he was doing.
The plot of the book is relatively simple and the mystery element to it is done well. There are several twists and turns that you probably won’t see coming but make perfect sense in hindsight. The chapters are quite short and that really helped keep the book moving at a crazy pace. There’s also action galore with fist fights and explosions and everything else that makes a good thriller story. All I can say is that it is a real page turner and I was devastated when I finished it because it was so engaging.
As I have already said, I absolutely loved this book. I can’t wait to go back and read the first book in the series Past Crimes. If all of Hamilton’s books are as good as Hard Cold Winter is, then he could easily be up there with my other favourite authors who write with the same style such as Lee Child, Matt Hilton, Sean Black and Jason Dean.
Worth a read? If you are a fan of that Jack Reacher style with a strong lead character, a lot of action and a mystery element to it, then Hard Cold Winter is certainly worth a read. The plot is simple, there’s a lot of action and Van Shaw is an engaging character that you should really enjoy.