Cover detail of The Second Stranger by Martin Griffin

The Second Stranger by Martin Griffin

I am very aware that I spend a lot of time talking about the weather on this blog. This is because I am British and we do seem to have a propensity towards this fascinating subject. But at the moment, the topic of work up and down the land seems to be our summer, or rather the lack of it. We are nearly halfway through June and I am sat typing this review in a woollen jumper because it is cold outside. As British people we remain ever hopeful that one day summer will come, it will stop raining for a day, and may be it might warm up a bit. Of course then we will complain it is too warm.

Read all about my bookish gift

The reason why I have gone all Wincey Willis on you, is that today's review features a storm that has quite an effect on the story. This was another one of my birthday gifts from my friends as part of their bookish present whereby I open a beautifully wrapped present on the first of the month. This book was May's choice. It's set during winter which also seems appropriate and was a consideration for #12booksofchristmas choice, but not quite.

The Plot

Remie Yorke has one shift left at the remote Mackinnon Hotel in the Scottish Highlands before she leaves for good. Then Storm Ezra hits.
As temperatures plummet and phone lines go down, an injured man stumbles inside. PC Don Gaines was ina. terrible accident on the mountain road. The only other survivor; a highly dangerous prisoner.
When a second stranger arrives, Remie reluctantly lets him in from the blizzard. He too, is hurt. He claims to be a Police Officer. His name is also PC Don Gaines.
Someone is lying and Remie must work out who. If the cold doesn't kills her, one of these men will get there first...

My Thoughts

A national newspaper describes this as one of the finest 'crime debuts of the year' and it is not hard to see why, the action ramps up from the get go and is relentless throughout the book.

Remie is undertaking her last shift at Mackinnon Hotel before travelling to Chile. With plans firmly in place (Heathrow, Madrid, Santiago), Storm Ezra blowing in threatens to derail this. A stranger arrives claiming to be PC Don Gaines injured a crash whilst transporting a dangerous and violent criminal. As Remie shows PC Gaines the layout of the hotel, gives him the key to the gun room in case the prisoner decides to flee to the hotel, a second stranger appears claiming to be PC Don Gaines.

With one of the hotel guests unaccounted for, and the other guests surreptitiously recording Remie's conversations, Remie is suitably spooked. As she tries to work out who is the real PC Gaines, the situation escalates and events unfold linking to Remie's past. Sounds good doesn't it?

Remie is a great protagonist. A past consumed by her brother's gangland activities, she is a former Psychology lecturer who employs this knowledge to work out who is lying whilst trying to stay safe. Her only ally is a man she is not sure she can trust. The whole book heightens our paranoia, the setting - a suitably snow-storming landscape dangerous and cruel. This looms over a woman desperate to get on a flight away.

As I said, the action is relentless even when the real PC Gaines is revealed. Our reading becomes almost pressured as the vice tightens. It's well done and I am already looking forward to the next novel by this author released in 2024. This is perfect for curling up with on a winter's night. You won't be able to put it down!

If you have missed any of my previous bookish present books, I have listed them below.

January - The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

February - What you are looking for is in the library by Michiko Aoyama

March - The Wild Remedy by Emma Mitchell

April - Murdle by G.T. Garber

May - The Second Stranger by Martin Griffin

June - The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller

Have a good week everyone!