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Cold Hands

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  566 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
Donnie Miller counts himself lucky. Living in a beautiful, spacious house in the wild and remote landscape of central Canada, he spends his days writing for the local newspaper, working on a film script, and acting as house-husband. After a troubled and impoverished upbringing in Scotland, he now has all he wants: a caring wife, a bright and happy son, a generous father-in ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published August 2nd 2012 by William Heinemann (first published January 21st 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Alexandra
Bisher kannte ich den Autor nur von der Humorfront - einen bösen Thriller hatte ich ihm gar nicht zugetraut und war deshalb auch sehr gespannt auf diesen Wechsel in ein neues Genre.

Der Anfang beginnt auch wirklich gut: Kanada, unendliche Weiten, ein toter ausgeweideter Hund und der Hinweis auf eine vertuschte Vergangenheit inmitten der momentan noch nahezu unzerkratzen kitschigen Familienidylle. Doch sobald auf den ersten 100 Seiten die Vorgeschichten in den Plot eingeführt werden und die Figur
...more
Jacki (Julia Flyte)
Donnie Miller lives with his family outside Regina, in central Canada. After a troubled childhood in Scotland, Donnie now leads a charmed life as a writer, with a successful and wealthy wife, a much loved son and a beautiful house. Early in the book the family dog dies in mysterious circumstances. Gradually, it becomes apparent that Donnie's past hides a very nasty secret and that perhaps that past may be coming back to haunt him.

I didn't enjoy this book. It starts well, but then the pace slows
...more
Raven
Aug 10, 2012 Raven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Niven is perhaps better known for darkly witty satires, ‘Kill Your Friends’, ‘The Amateurs’ and ‘The Second Coming’ so I was interested to read this, his first foray into the world of crime writing with the skilful insertion of a ‘J’ to differentiate this from his normal fare. And what a completely gripping, criminal smorgasbord of brilliant and blood-soaked delights it is as you find yourself, in the words of Irvine Welsh, “trampling through a moral minefield.”

Donnie Miller leads an unass
...more
Bibliophile
This thriller starts out well enough, with Donnie recounting the horrible events that made him the wreck he is at the beginning of the book. Since this means he survived whatever happened, the only question is what happened and why. Scene: wintry Saskatchewan, a happy family of three living a life of leisure. Donnie the house-husband has a deep dark secret from his past in Scotland, which is revealed in flashbacks, though it's obvious what the secret is from the very first hints.

Now, I don't co
...more
Leni Iversen
Oct 29, 2016 Leni Iversen rated it it was ok
Three stars is sort of a catch-all for me, and I often wish I could give 3.5 stars. But this book just scrapes in at 3 stars. In part, I'm sure, because thrillers are not really my preferred genre, but also because I couldn't work out if the book takes itself seriously or not. There are enough hints at the meta level to indicate that the author knows exactly what he is doing and is just having fun. But there's also a painful backstory that invokes similar cases in real life, and I wonder if the ...more
Allan
May 25, 2014 Allan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read all but one of John Niven's novels, which are pretty diverse in subject and sometimes hard hitting, but until now I'd avoided this, his first foray into crime / thriller writing under the moniker John J Niven. The blurb sold the book as a page turner, and in general this is what I found.

Told from the point of view of Donald Miller, a Scottish journalist working for a Canadian provincial newspaper, of which his wife is the editor, we are introduced to a character who seemingly has it al
...more
Antonia Cochrane
I rated this book a 4star as I 'enjoyed' the read as I couldn't put it down. The style of writing does just make you want to keep going which i love in a book. That said I felt that the gruesome details were somewhat unnecessary in order to create the tension and that this was the authors way of horrifying the reader. It becomes apparent about half way through how the past has indeed caught up with him, however the culmination of events does become rather unbelievable. If you are not too faint h ...more
Luke Walker
A strange one. Not very thrilling for a thriller and there are far too many coincidences in the plot, but it's still oddly readable with an interesting narrator. Worth a read but probably not a re-read.
Kerry Ellis
Oct 24, 2013 Kerry Ellis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent gripping read I love they way John Niven writes.
Tanja
Oct 09, 2015 Tanja rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Das ursprüngliche Zuhause dieser Rezension ist der WortWelten-Blog:
http://wort-welten.blogspot.de/


Zusammenfassung:

Zwei Jahre zuvor war Donalds Leben perfekt - das gesteht er im Hinblick auf das Leben, das er inzwischen in Florida führt. Glücklich verheiratet mit seiner Frau Sammy und Vater eines neunjährigen Sohnes zu sein, war alles für ihn. Und durch seine gelegentliche Arbeit als Filmkritiker für die Zeitung von Sammy hatte er auch jede Menge Zeit für seine Familie. Ein fantastisches Haus in
...more
Greg
Jan 23, 2014 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a fan of Niven's previous books I was very interested in reading his first thriller and to see how he's changed since adding the J to his moniker.
One thing is for sure, Niven knows how to tell a story. The pace of Cold Hands builds superbly as we discover the life of main man Donnie, his wife and son and the serenity of their snowy Canadian home, while drifting back in time to Donnie's youth a world away in Scotland - a subject Niven knows and uses well in his books.
We quickly discover Donnie
...more
Annabel Smith
Apr 03, 2014 Annabel Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Do not open this book, I repeat, do not open this book! Because once you start reading it, you can't stop and you might just wish (like me) that you never started it in the first place.
I have just finished reading it and only just stopped shaking. John Niven's thriller is gripping to the finish, but too graphic and disturbing for my taste. Whilst I could not put it down, I wish I could erase most of it from my mind. Even the huge great 'turn around now' signpost of the dog incident was not enou
...more
Casey
Aug 22, 2012 Casey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've enjoyed John Niven's other novels, and thrillers are a dirty little joy of mine. How would someone who basks in dark humor and vulgarity handle this genre? The answer: surprisingly well. The narrator sets about retelling his grisly past via frame story, with occasional flashbacks to his childhood explaining his dark past. You don't spend the entire book wondering who the killer is, but that's not what this is about anyway. This is a tale of survival, endurance, and what it means to live thr ...more
Brandon Nagel
Aug 21, 2012 Brandon Nagel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Terrifying. This book scared me more than anything that I have read in a long time. It is the type of book that sticks with you, especially if you are a man with young children. The writing is excellent and the story was terrific. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED if you want to have the shit scared out of you.
Kirsty
My favourite thing about this was the setting: both the snowy wilderness of Canada and the grimness of 1980s Scotland were vividly evoked. Halfway through the plot takes a twist into the predictable, which is a shame, but it's still a hugely enjoyable novel.
Nigeyb
Jun 30, 2015 Nigeyb rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed the other books I've read by John Niven however this was a huge disappointment.

It's his first and, based on this, hopefully last attempt at the crime genre.

Implausible, nasty, and - after an interesting set up - ultimately just plain ludicrous.

A dud.

2/5
Gregor
Aug 19, 2012 Gregor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't put this down until I finished reading it. it was brutal, dark, compelling stuff . I need to read something cheery now. Phew! Don't expect the laughs of his other books, just as excellent tho. One of the best books I have read this year so far.
Tina
picked this book up from library van read it in 3 days could not put it down .
Amanda
Feb 07, 2017 Amanda rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf-books
DNF

I tried to finish this book but I really disliked the whole concept of the book and how it dragged on and didn’t seem to go anywhere.
Raven
Jun 30, 2012 Raven rated it really liked it
John Niven is perhaps better known for darkly witty satires, ‘Kill Your Friends’, ‘The Amateurs’ and ‘The Second Coming’ so I was interested to read this, his first foray into the world of crime writing with the skilful insertion of a ‘J’ to differentiate this from his normal fare. And what a completely gripping, criminal smorgasbord of brilliant and blood-soaked delights it is as you find yourself, in the words of Irvine Welsh, “trampling through a moral minefield.”

Donnie Miller leads an unass
...more
Criticalmick
Sep 21, 2012 Criticalmick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Does a crime thriller with an unreliable narrator deserve an unreliable reviewer? One of the following five facts about John J. Niven’s Cold Hands is a bald-faced lie:

•The tale is told in retrospect by Donnie Miller, a Scottish-born resident of the isolated outskirts of Alarbus, Saskatchewan.
•Married to the tall and lovely newspaper editor Sammy and father to an eight-year-old named Walt, Donnie’s days are filled with drafting movie reviews, chauffeuring Walt to hockey matches, walking the dog,
...more
Justin Bauer
Apr 15, 2013 Justin Bauer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Author John Niven has changed his name to John J. Niven with the publication of his first thriller, Cold Hands. This subtle change indicates an attempt to differentiate this work from his previous styles. While Cold Hands is a blunt departure from Niven’s trademarked black comedies, there is zero compromise in the quality department. Niven creates genuine empathy for a character who comes to deserve very little.

The novel opens in Florida where we are introduced to Donnie Miller; a man haunted by
...more
Kerstin
Jun 01, 2014 Kerstin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Grundidee: Ein Thriller, der sich mit einem erbarmungslosen Rachefeldzug beschäftigt und dessen Täter vor nichts zurückschreckt. Brutal und blutig, nicht für schwache Nerven geeignet!
Charaktere: Protagonist Donald Miller ist glücklich mit der wohlhabenden Sammy verheiratet und hat einen 8-jährigen Sohn namens Walt. Sein Leben verläuft in geregelten Bahnen, bis er eines Tages seinen Hund Herby tot auffindet, der regelrecht abgeschlachtet wurde. Seitdem wird für Donald nie mehr alles so sein, wie
...more
Si Barron
Jul 07, 2015 Si Barron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
Cold Hands

Why it is called Cold Hands I know not, however this thriller delivers on all levels- it commands and holds your attention from page one and serves up all the right jeopardy at all the right moments- never has a ‘thriller’ been better classified.

Surprisingly, for this genre, the characterisation goes deep, although, being a thriller, the motivations are exaggerated and in some cases improbable to a high degree. The story, though wildly implausible, has its own internal consistency and
...more
Amanda - Go Book Yourself


A review copy was provided by Gill Hess / Century in return for an honest review

Cold Hands tells it's story through Donnie, a young Scot attempting to escape from the shadow of his past. Despite being a thriller Cold hands is quite a slow burner and the reader is gradually introduced to the changes that have occurred throughout Donnies life.

Cold Hands really forces the reader to question their morals on life. Does a change of circumstance change the person at heart? This is essentially a rag
...more
Ian Mapp
Dec 10, 2012 Ian Mapp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
Have conquered humour with "Kill Your Friends", John adds a J to his name and takes on the thriller.

And what a great effort this is.

Lots of literary overtones and a beautiful two stage story, where Donnies superb life in canada, married to a beautiful millionaire-ess with a son is played against his upbringing in a poor family in Ayrshire. This is so well done and spot on. Attitudes to money and alcohol from when he was a child are compared to this generations have everything and have everything
...more
Janette Fleming
Donnie Miller counts himself lucky. Living in a beautiful, spacious house in the wild and remote landscape of central Canada, he spends his days writing for the local newspaper, working on a film script, and acting as house-husband. After a troubled and impoverished upbringing in Scotland, he now has all he wants: a caring wife, a bright and happy son, a generous father-in-law. As the brutal northern winter begins to bite, he can sit back and enjoy life.

But his peace is soon to be broken. There
...more
Becca
Jan 20, 2015 Becca rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the fourth John Niven book I read. When I bought it I didn't even check what it is about. To be honest, I was expecting something like "Kill Your Friends". I was quite surprised to find out that the book is actually a thriller.
However, John Niven did solid work on this one. Although I consider his other works as better, his first attempt on this genre is pretty good. Niven has a talent for describing the scenery. While reading the book I felt like I really am in Canada.
The story itself a
...more
Snoakes
Aug 17, 2016 Snoakes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With Cold Hands, John Niven proves he can write something a little more mass-market than his usual literary satires. He avoids many of the cliches of the average thriller, but don't expect too many surprises - it's fairly evident from pretty early on where the story is going.
The novel pivots around our civilised belief in remorse and redemption and our primeval bestial desire for revenge and restitution. There's also a nice juxtaposition between our narrator's dirt poor upbringing in Scotland a
...more
Casey
Jan 05, 2014 Casey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was pretty terrifying and certainly included its fair share of gore and guts; I wouldn't recommend it to the fainthearted. It also grew into quite a dark read as more and more details were revealed about Donnie's past. I definitely had a lot of conflicting feelings whilst reading this book as the two main characters were both victims at different points in it, as one of them set out to get their revenge (I'm describing this badly, but I don't want to give anything away).

I felt that the
...more
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Born in Irvine, Ayrshire, Niven read English Literature at Glasgow University, graduating in 1991 with First Class honours. For the next ten years, he worked for a variety of record companies, including London Records and Independiente. He left the music industry to write full time in 2002 and published his debut novella Music from Big Pink in 2005 (Continuum Press). The novella was optioned for t ...more
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“As for school, well, the only kids who read books for pleasure, who read outside of when a teacher was literally standing over them in the classroom, were the freaks. The kids like . . . like him. Docherty. The Professor. Strange and unexpected then when I discovered under Mr Cardew’s encouragement that what seemed to me to be tracts of boredom and torture actually contained un imaginable vistas, entire worlds of escape. (And you were much in need of escape then, weren’t you?) That you could open one of them and start turning the pages and that, instead of time slowing down and refusing to pass, you would look up at the clock (that clock, in its mesh cage) and the deadly, endless afternoon ahead of you would have vanished.” 2 likes
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