Cold Blood by James Fleming - review by Andrew Barrow

Andrew Barrow

Death On The Tracks

Cold Blood

By

Jonathan Cape 336pp £16.99 order from our bookshop
 

The swirling snowstorms and ongoing economic confusion and casualties of early February provided this reviewer with the perfect atmosphere in which to read this bitterly gruesome novel set in the revolutionary, corpse-strewn Russia of 1918. 

The story begins in St Petersburg a few days before Lenin’s coup. The fate of the Tsar and his family is in the balance. Though still puffing away at Ortega Grande cigars and knocking back ninety-year-old cognac from silver flasks in their chauffeured Rolls-Royces, capitalists, aristocrats in long fur-edged coats and other privileged types are on the run. Shit, vomit, fog, mud and Bolshevism fill the streets.

Enter, or rather re-enter, Charlie Doig, hero of James Fleming’s last wintry offering, White Blood. Half-Scottish, half-Russian, Doig immediately reminds us that he started life as a naturalist and hit world renown at twenty-three by capturing an absurdly rare beetle in a post office in western Burma. Now

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter