Cold Hands
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Cold Hands

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  279 ratings  ·  49 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 September 10th 2012 by William Heinemann (first published January 21st 2012)
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Raven
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
Julia
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
Allan
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
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
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
Annabel Smith
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
Kerry Ellis
Excellent gripping read I love they way John Niven writes.
Greg
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
Casey
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
Kerstin
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 es...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
Brandon Nagel
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.
Sabrina
Bereits durch "Gott Bewahre" auf John Niven aufmerksam geworden, konnte ich es mir nich nehmen lassen den neuesten Thriller des Schotten zu lesen.

Donald Miller, Verfasser einer Zeitungskolumne, Familienvater und Ehemann, lebt auf einem riesigen Anwesen im schönen Kanada. Er führt ein sorgenfreies Leben - bis ihn seine Vergangenheit einholt. Jemand kann eine Gräueltat aus Donalds Jugend nicht vergessen und lässt ihn nun dafür büßen...

Zu Beginn fand ich den Thriller nicht sehr aufregend, aber ic...more
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.
Gregor
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.
Ian Mapp
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
Raven
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
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 rags...more
Criticalmick
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
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
Casey
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
Booklunatic
4 Sterne

Das schleichende Unbehagen, mit dem die Handlung ihren Lauf nimmt, fand ich sehr gut umgesetzt. Was mich etwas nervte, war allerdings, dass man dank deutschem Klappentext (innen) schon wusste, was die ersten 100 Seiten passiert und somit die ersten beiden gruseligen Höhepunkte schon vorweggenommen wurden. Sonst wäre es vermutlich noch viel wirkungsvoller gewesen. Ansonsten aber sehr spannend, gutes Thema (Rache, menschliche Abgründe) und zwei sehr unerwartete Wendungen. Heftig - ja, nich...more
Aleem Najak
Main woman with revenge agenda a bit OTT and lacking in authenticity - bit of an archetype fleshed out with unimaginative distinguishing features (am dram/booze) to make her seem real..lazy/nice idea but harder to make real.. but the main character's head trip pretty tidy...yup.well done.. could imagine writer struggling with parts a bit, and maybe getting a bit gnarled by having to do it... bit like Kennedy in SWM ;). Still, Niven pulling a big trailer of shit, coasting in a banger at low revs...more
Joel
Not quite in the same class of Stephen King's Misery yet the plot similarity is there. As with some of his other books he stays close to home: the protagonist is a Scottish writer this time tortured by an event from his youth. Now in Canada the past catches up with him with gruesome consequences.
John Weston
I havent read any of the authors other books,but i hear they arent in the same vein as this one. Thats a shame as i thought this was very good. The switching between the past and present stories was well handled and although the story dragged a bit in the beginning, it picked up about halfway and by the end i enjoyed it.A bit gory in places and some of the Scots language needs a bit of working out but i will certainly read more by this author
Deborahpb
Love his writing. This one less Censored than others as his writing is a mix between Irvine Welsh and nick Hornby, and couldn't help but see it as a screenplay as I was reading.
Markus Solty
Was für ein gutes Buch! Ein anspielungsreicher, perfide konstruierter Thriller. Etwas Besseres habe ich lange nicht gelesen.
Heather Noble
The past is literally another country for the two main characters in this taut, tense and eventually horrific thriller. But it is more than that as the author uses the genre to explore grief, revenge and guilt. The conflicted reader feels compelled to feel sympathy for characters whose actions deserve no sympathy as past histories reveal events and emotions of Shakespearian proportions. "As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods..."

This is the first thriller by the author who has added a J to...more
Jane
I like John Niven's change of direction to gory horror - which I imagine came fairly easily to him since touches of brutal violence appear in his other books. But it's good to see an author changing direction and not letting themselves be defined by previous works. I personally get bored with authors when they keep dishing the out the same old characters again and again - but that's personal preference, of course. My only quibble with the book was that the female lead (I don't want to give too m...more
Nicky Sharp
Good story, very graphic and atmospheric.

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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
More about John Niven...
Kill Your Friends The Second Coming The Amateurs Straight White Male Music from Big Pink

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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.” 1 likes
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