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The Dead of Winter (John Madden #3)

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  932 Ratings  ·  147 Reviews
The murder of a young Polish girl in wartime London puts John Madden on the trail of a ruthless hired killer
On a freezing London night in 1944, Rosa Novak is brutally murdered during a blackout. The police suspect she was the victim of a random act of violence and might have dropped the case if former police investigator John Madden hadn't been the victim's employer.
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published July 23rd 2009 by Viking Adult
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Jun 15, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third in the original John Madden trilogy. The first book, “River of Darkness,” is set in 1921, when England is still very much in the shadow of WWI. The second in the trilogy, “The Blood Dimmed Tide,” takes us to 1932 and the time of the depression and the rise of the Nazi party. In “The Dead of Winter” we begin in 1940, with the fall of Paris to the Germans, with the murder of furrier Maurice Sobel. Sobel is Jewish and has managed to send his wife and children out of the country, b ...more
Dec 17, 2009 Barbara rated it liked it
Shelves: ww-1, mystery
Had I not read Rennie Airth's first two books, I would have been tempted to give this book a four star rating. Airth, a South African, whose books take place in England, has spaced his mysteries about twenty years apart. One cannot help but think of Foyle, in the PBS series "Foyle's War" when reading these books. The first one followed the "Great War" and this one focuses on WW II. Police forces had continued to attempt law and order, but with slim resources and personnel, the task was difficult ...more
Aug 15, 2009 Yvette rated it did not like it
This is a rare disappointment from an otherwise
wonderful writer. I feel that perhaps he was rushed
to finish this for publication. Too bad.
They should just let him take his time.

This book is heavily loaded down with tons of exposition
which should have been edited out and inserted into the
story in another way. Most of it seems like short-cut writing merely to inform the reader.I was truly surprised.

Don't let this stop you though, from reading the first
two John Madden novels which are brilliant.
Jun 28, 2012 Susan rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club-reads
The Dead of Winter was a pick for my mystery book club, and it is the first book that I have read by Airth. Airth does a good job at creating World War II England providing the reader with the experience of this war torn country. During one of the blackouts, a young woman is murdered. Rosa's murder probably wouldn't receive much attention except for the fact that her employer is none other than former police investigator John Madden. Madden refuses to let the case go, and several other police of ...more
Dana Stabenow
Mar 25, 2012 Dana Stabenow rated it really liked it
[writing one review for the trilogy]

The setting is England. The first novel, River of Darkness, takes place soon after World War I, where a serial killer is charging into rural homes and slaughtering entire families. The second novel, The Blood-Dimmed Tide, takes place a decade later, in the depths of the Great Depression, and a homicidal maniac is targeting young girls for rape and murder. The third novel, The Dead of Winter (love that title), takes place in 1944, after D-Day but before the Bat
Sep 02, 2009 Tripp rated it liked it
Rennie Airth's latest, the Dead of Winter, would have been a perfectly good book, if it had not been written after his excellent River of Darkness (looks like there is a mass market available - you are crazy not to get this book at that price) and quite good Blood Dimmed Tide. Now it seems like a book that could have been much better.

The book differs in a number of ways from the previous stories. Two of the most significant though are the time frame and the characters. Unlike the previous books
Dec 31, 2012 Ron rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys a good detective novel.
Recommended to Ron by: Found it on Goodreads.
Shelves: no-large-print
At first, I was disappointed in this, the 3rd John Madden book by Rennie Airth. But, in the end, I was much more appreciative of it. A fine story, although I did appreciate the other 2(River of Darkness and The Blood-Dimmed Tide) more. Not that it wasn't up to the high standard that Mr. Airth had set for himself. Maybe I just had too high of an expectation. Maybe especially so as this appears to be the last of the series. To my mind, Airth has covered Madden's "life" a little to quickly. Madden ...more
First Sentence: Dusk was falling by the time Maurice Sobel reached Neuilly, and he walked the short distance from the Metro to his house in the cold, not quite earthly light of the blue-painted street lamps which were the city’s sole concession to the war that was about to engulf it.

It’s 1944 and England is anticipating the end of the War, but crime lives on. A young Polish is brutally murdered on the streets of London. Chief Inspector Angus Sinclair is assigned the case along with Inspector Bil
Laura Leaney
Jan 31, 2015 Laura Leaney rated it liked it
A little too bogged down by police detail and coincidence for my taste, this "John Madden" mystery was not nearly as interesting as River of Darkness. Still, I appreciated the post-war details: land girls, country bobbies, the rare orange, and the problem with finding a working phone line. I also smiled at the singular addition of the female Constable Lily Poole, whose appearance at the Bow Street station causes so much male muttering.
Valentin Mihov
Product Description

"[Rennie Airth's] meticulously detailed procedural mysteries are beautifully written . . . well worth reading, and rereading."
-Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

On a freezing London night in 1944, Rosa Novak is brutally murdered during a blackout. Scotland Yard suspects the young Polish refugee was the victim of a random act of violence and might have dropped the case if former police investigator John Madden hadn't been her employer. Madden feels he owes it t

Cat Reads
Sep 26, 2014 Cat Reads rated it it was ok
This book started interesting, but what I was hoping and expecting I did not get. I wanted thrilling, exciting, suspense and instead I got boring procedural crap that was very tedious to get through. The reason for the first murder, that everything else seemed to stem from, wasn't juicy or thrilling and I found myself being completely let down by the case itself for that reason.

The book itself is boring, for the reasons I said above, and I felt the author went too far to being realistic. We all
Jun 13, 2014 Leah rated it really liked it
Convincing war-time setting

A young Polish woman is garrotted on a blackout-dark London street. Around her are some burnt matches as if someone had been looking for something. But nothing has been stolen and it appears that the woman was not assaulted prior to her death. When the police manage to identify her, it turns out she was a land girl working for ex-police inspector John Madden, who is still a close friend of the investigating officer Chief Inspector Angus Sinclair. So it seems only natur
Jul 03, 2014 Patricia rated it it was amazing
Rennie Airths books have all the elements I love in a good mystery,it.s set in the past with a mystery and murders resulting from events further in the past which reverberate into the present time in which the story is set. In this case, it is Dec 1944 but the beginning is in Paris just before the fall to the Germans. Add In Jewish Polish refugees who do not want to attract attention in England and the stage is set.
He retired John Madden, the protagonist at the end of the first book but each suc
Nov 03, 2015 Deb rated it it was ok
This is another entry in the John Madden series. I found it way too slow-going for 95% of the book, with too much talking and not much action. It's also a weird premise: the "hero" investigator is a long-retired and revered detective who is still friends with the current crop of detectives. He's brought into the investigation as a courteous gesture since one of the victims worked on his farm. But for most of the book, Madden is back on his farm asking productive questions. And as in previous Mad ...more
Feb 13, 2015 Soho_black rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, used-to-own
A few years ago, I read Christopher Fowler's ''Full Dark House'', a detective story partly set in the midst of the Blitz. The restrictions imposed by being in the middle of a major city at war put a different spin on solving a crime and I'd never read anything quite like it until I came across Rennie Airth's ''The Dead of Winter'', which was set under similar circumstances.

During the blackout, an Air Raid Warden in London bumps into a young woman out alone. A short while later, he literally stum
Nancy Reynolds
Feb 25, 2015 Nancy Reynolds rated it it was amazing
WWII is raging - and bad things still happen on the homefront. I really like the way these books are set up - although I don't understand why the author let 10 years lapse between the settings of each of his books. Once again, John Madden gets pulled into a case through the most curious of "coincidences" - which is a theme of this particular story. It's all a matter of "timing" - of being in a particular place at any given moment. I also enjoy the fact that there are the same supporting cast of ...more
This is the third in the John Madden series of mysteries. The stories get better and better. I enjoyed this very much. It's more than just a mystery featuring one detective. In fact, in this story, John Madden has been retired from Scotland Yard for a number of years, now happily married and living in the country with lovely country doctor, Helen. The story is set during the final throes of WWII, during the Battle of the Bulge as Hitler's army tries a last desperate attempt to throw back the All ...more
Dec 31, 2011 Shireen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 2011
OK, it's rare for me not to finish a book. I'm endemically inclined to finish any book I pick up, even if it takes me years. But this writer has a really annoying habit of jumping around in time. At first, I thought the publisher had screwed up the ebook formatting and left out pages. I'd be in the middle of a scene, "turn" the page, and I'm suddenly somewhere ahead in time. When I kept reading, I'd eventually enter one of the character's thoughts of what happened from the point the writer left ...more
Anne Fontaine
Sep 19, 2009 Anne Fontaine rated it really liked it
The third and latest of Rennie Airth's elegant mysteries takes place in and around London in the waning, atmospheric months of the second World War, already five years long. The homes and businesses rubbled in the Blitz have become landmarks themselves, counterpoints to St. Paul's Cathedral standing untouched in their midst. Savvy Londoners have decoded the operational physics of the various bombs that have been dropped on their heads and can predict trajectory and target by the sounds of their ...more
Feb 28, 2013 Leslie rated it really liked it
Although this was no River of Darkness--Rennie Airth's first novel featuring John Madden--I enjoyed it well enough. There were a few plot "twists" that I saw coming, but many more that I did not, and there were about 20 pages towards the end that I held my breath through. The writing did not seem as graceful as that in River, but that may be because I've been more recently spoiled by Kate Atkinson's and Jane Gardam's eloquence.

John Madden, our traumatized World War I hero with a Scotland Yard b
Jun 07, 2011 Alistair rated it liked it
an adequate read no more . a police procedural set in london in WW11 it tells of the tracking down of a brutal serial killer . There are a lot of extremely dull characters in the story not least John Madden the retired policeman himself who is at the heart of the investigation . I have nothing against decent people but the decent people are a bit too good to be true and the villains too nasty .

I am pleased to read an old style detective novel in which the detective is not an alchoholic , divorce
Patricia Uttaro
Oct 29, 2013 Patricia Uttaro rated it it was amazing
I fell in love with Rennie Airth’s writing when I read River of Darkness, which was such a dark, clever story that I began to recommend it to library patrons constantly. The horrifyingly good writing continued in The Blood-Dimmed Tide and now returns in Dead of Winter, which picks up the story of John Madden 20 years after we got to know him in Airth’s first book.

Old friends abound in Dead of Winter – Madden, his engaging wife Helen (who I always picture as Helen Mirren for some reason…), and hi
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘What have we missed?’

During a blackout, in London late in 1944, an Air Raid Warden bumps into a young woman. He offers to accompany her to her destination; she thanks him and declines his offer. A short time later, the Air Raid Warden stumbles over her dead body. It isn’t clear why Rosa Nowak was murdered: there is no obvious motive, there are very few clues and not many witnesses can be identified. An ageing police force is stretched: there may be a shortage of police manpower but not of oppor
Sep 02, 2015 Tom rated it it was amazing
Great police procedural set during the end of WWII in England. Madden returns and plays more of a role than in the previous book, and it was nice to see him again. The author writes with a sure hand. He's done a great job of moving characters down the timeline - we're picking up on them after Madden has adult children now. The mystery itself follows the death of a young Polish woman who works for Madden. Overall, very well done.
Ann Rieth
May 26, 2015 Ann Rieth rated it liked it
I like the characters in the John Madden series. love the descriptions of the setting, and the way Mr Airth details the parameters of WWI and WWII as they impact the murders, mysteries, coincidences of place, time, and characters. I wasn't as riveted by this story as I was by the first two, and I think it was because I didn't like John Madden only being a tangential part of the story and being older by ten years.
Janet Martin
Jul 09, 2014 Janet Martin rated it really liked it
Not as strong as the first 2 books in this too short series, but still a wonderful historical police procedural. These books definitely benefit from being read in order and the terrific characters continue to develop, both individually and in company
Another decade has passed and we now find John Madden 20 years past the first book a farmer with a son off to war. Sinclair is sticking around until the war ends and new men can come to the Yard. This time a farm hand of John's is murdered in London on a weekend trip to visit an aunt and many old dark stories come to light. John takes a special interest in seeing the case resolved as he feels a sense of responsibility for the dead girl, but as usual a dark twisty criminal is at the heart of the ...more
Oct 11, 2009 Corny rated it really liked it
Shelves: thrillers
Regretfully, the third in the series of John Madden books has become forumulaic. Although the setting is now the Second World War and the descriptions are still most interesting, the type of villain is the same and the ending is predictable. However, there are still interesting plot turns and Airth is at his best describing life in rural England. The characters, well drawn and likable despite their flaws, remain many of the same as in the previous stories and have just aged by 12 years since the ...more
Jan 27, 2011 Elaine rated it really liked it
This book came into my hands in an unusual way. My husband went to see 39 steps on Broadway, and when he came out people were giving out books.
He did not know why, but when he noticed it was a murder mystery, he passed it on to me. For fans of British crime novels, this is a gem. Set in winter before the end of World War II, scotland yards deals with the death of a Polish refugee whose death would have been ignored, except she was the employee of a retired police investigator, John Madden. Wonde
Diana Sandberg
Jan 11, 2014 Diana Sandberg rated it really liked it
I still like the first one best, but this one rattles on quite well. I was relieved not to have his wife play a major part in this one; she seemed so one-sided in the previous volume. Definitely kept me reading. The author takes such huge leaps in time between volumes. Can't see that he can go much further if there's to be a next one. Wonder if he's determined to end the series, or if he will go back and fill in.
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Rennie Airth was born in South Africa and has worked as a foreign correspondent for Reuters. The first novel in his John Madden trilogy, River of Darkness, was published in 1999 to huge critical acclaim, was shortlisted for four crime fiction awards and won the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière in France. The sensational sequel was The Blood-Dimmed Tide, and The Dead of Winter forms the final pa ...more
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Other Books in the Series

John Madden (4 books)
  • River of Darkness (John Madden, #1)
  • The Blood-Dimmed Tide (John Madden, #2)
  • The Reckoning

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