Frozen Minds by Cheryl Rees-Price
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Here we go again… “Frozen Minds” is not bad; but, sadly, it’s not good either.
It’s a convoluted story in which Rees-Price ventures onto thin ice; to write parts of the story from the explicit point of view, in some cases directly from the mind of a person with mental disabilities is problematic at least. I’m not sure I would call that attempt successful either.
But the story itself is already too much: Complicated to the point of implausibility. While the motivations of the perpetrator(s) might hold at least some water, the execution of their plans amounts to trying to hold water with a sieve…
Rees-Price undoubtedly means well in all she writes: From DI Winter Meadows who starts to become a team player…
»Having transferred from London eighteen months earlier, he’d found it a little too quiet at first. Now he was used to taking cases usually dealt with by uniform, and when his department needed assistance, he was never short of help. There was no “them and us” in the valleys.«
… to Blackwell who’s gaining at least a rough sketch of a character, things do evolve somewhat, compared with the first instalment. Sadly, the same cannot be said of Rees-Price’s talent as an author: Her characters are still very rough at the edges and lack nuances, subtlety, motivation and, in most cases, an actual perceptible character. Edris, for example, who was a young and hopeful newbie on the job, is now the caricature of a “young stud”. He is mostly busy ogling and flirting with same-age women and kissing Meadow’s behind.
»‘You’ve been right about everything else.’ Edris grinned.«
Poor Edris tends to tell everyone they put someone in their place. Repeatedly. With the exact same words, in the exact same context. Why am I mentioning such a detail? Because pretty much everything about Rees-Price’s writing feels strained, effortful and cumbersome, almost clunky.
I think most of her characters are shallow and stereotypical.
Not just her choice of words, repetitions, but also Meadows’ thoughts that are added verbatim to the narration in italics. That’s either a serious lack of talent or laziness. Either way, I didn’t like it.
»‘Fine,’ Jane snapped. ‘Do what you want, but please be aware that there are a number of confidential files on site containing sensitive information. I don’t want you or your officers nosing in those files.’
What was she hiding in them?«
There are also lots of loose ends and plot holes – why is a certain person anxious during a police search when nothing ever comes of it? Unexplained.
Why, ultimately, were certain choices made? Unexplained and not deductible either. Also: There were several points in the story during which it was absolutely clear to the reader what needed to be done and a hard-boiled ex-London cop doesn’t? Excuse me…
(Especially when what “needed to be done” would have amounted to just keep doing what they were doing instead of needlessly going elsewhere…)
The mystery itself, albeit badly told and needlessly complicated, was rather simply structured. The exact same plot devices have been used over and over and over. There’s absolutely nothing new. You feel like you’ve known the story and settings for a long time – just the character names have changed and the composition.
It’s sad because I liked the empathy that Rees-Price projects into Meadows (and even Blackwell, even though she’s not good enough to write him well either) for the challenged residents of the home. I especially really liked how Meadows interacts with Kevin.
And, yet, all in all, this felt like a waste of precious reading time. Bland literary fast food.
Three stars out of five and, to finish with Kevin’s words:
»‘Bye bye, Winter Man.’ Kevin grinned and climbed on the bus.«
I will not continue reading this series.
Ceterum censeo Putin esse delendam
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Frozen Minds by Cheryl Rees-Price