#FridayReads 2022-02-04 ‘The Winter People’ and ‘Winter Dark’

I’m under a self-imposed ban on buying books at the moment, so I’ve been prowling my LibraryThing shelves to see what calls to me. I always find February to be the dullest, darkest month of the year (that may be the reason why it’s the shortest) so I went looking for books with Winter in the title and excitement inside. I’ve picked two thrillers, one American and one British, to help me stave of the winter blues.

The Winter People’ by Jennifer McMahon (2014)

This week, ‘The Winter People’ celebrated its sixth year sitting on my TBR shelf unread. I’ve looked at it a few times for Halloween Bingo but it has never made it to the top of the pile. So it’s love it or leave it time. I’ll either have been neglecting a good book for way too long or I’ll be admitting a mis-buy and moving on.

I’m still attracted to the premise of a horror novel with a mystery running on two timelines and I’m happy to spend some winter days in Vermont.

‘Winter Dark’ by Alex Collister (2019)

‘Winter Dark’ has nothing to do with the season, although some of the action takes place in a ski resort (it’s a spy novel, so of course some of the action takes place in a ski resort). The main character’s name is Winter. No other name. Like, Cher or Pink or Beyonce. Only English and really really dangerous.

I was attracted to the this book because the author, who used to be a technology futures analyst in The City, has thought up some clever ways of applying current technology to make international crime more efficient and international criminals more powerful. This appeals to me because I spent the last years of my career assessing new technologies for their commercial applications. It wasn’t very exciting so I kept myself awake by thinking up ways for criminals and or the military to make use of something someone in Palo Alto thought would be cool.

I’ve already started ‘Winter Dark’. It’s very entertaining: fast-moving, action-packed, full of violence and sex and feats of incredible (almost) derring do. The trope twist is that the main character isn’t the middle-aged but still up for it white, male, upper-class sociopath working for M16 that I’ve grown used to. It’s a woman who, when we first meet her at seventeen-years-old, is already a world-class hacker, extreme sports enthusiast, expert snowboarder and martial arts practitioner who has shown herself to be, as her file puts it, ‘sexually omnivorous’. Most of the action takes place ten years later, by which time she’s become really dangerous.

I’m enjoying the playfulness of the storytelling, the plausibility of the technology and the authenticity of the settings. If this keeps up, I’ll be reading the whole series.

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