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The Frozen Dead

(Commandant Martin Servaz #1)

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  3,925 ratings  ·  447 reviews
The first victim is a horse: its headless body hangs suspended from the edge of a frozen cliff.

On the same day as the gruesome discovery, a young psychiatrist starts her first job at a secure asylum for the criminally insane, just a few miles away.

Commandant Servaz, a Toulouse city cop, can't believe he has been called out over the death of an animal. But there is someth
Hardcover, 482 pages
Published August 12th 2014 by Minotaur Books (first published 2011)
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Average rating 3.90  · 
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 ·  3,925 ratings  ·  447 reviews

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Jim Fonseca
May 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The action is set in southern France in the Pyrenees, bordering on Spain (where the author grew up). This is what I call an environmental novel. The high mountains and glaciers; the almost-constant snow, the cold, wind, freezing rain, fog – all are as important as any character in the novel. In that way the book reminds me of the importance of the environment in The Shipping News by Annie Proulx or in Snow by Orhan Pamuk. It’s the antithesis of a beach book -- this one is for a good winter read ...more
Krystin Rachel
Well...there's 18 hours of my life I'm never getting back.

This motherfucker is DENSE.

Yes, the setting and atmosphere are A+ (frozen landscapes FTW), but everything else about this - the mystery, the characters, the plot, the climactic devices, the relationships - it was all bogged down in just so. many. fucking. words.

"But, Krystin, it's a book! Book are made with words!"


This was a very difficult read for me. I had to physically force myself to finish it.

And what a letdown, bec
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
In my attempt to explore more dark mysteries translated from another language, I stumbled upon French author, Bernard Minier. Bringing a new meaning to the word ‘noir mystery’, Minier uses his debut novel to delve into the depths of despair, stereotypical for literary pieces emanating from the author’s homeland. When a body is discovered dangling from a cliff, Commandant Martin Servaz is called to the scene. Much to his dismay, the body is that of a decapitated horse. Sure that someone has playe ...more
The Shayne-Train
Aug 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I won't lie, there were times when I had a hard time with this book. I even came close to putting it down and moving on to something else once or twice.

"But Shayne," you say, "four stars means that you really liked it. Did you fucking forget how to properly rate a book?" No, I goddamn didn't, voice in my head. Let me explain.

This is not your usual page-turning mystery whodunnit summer-read blah blah. This book is dense, slow-building. The snow-covered mountains and lonely valleys the story inhab
I had picked this book up literally at the check out counter of the library. Someone was returning it and I asked if I could get it. It says "Dead" right in the title. That's my alley kind of book. I know I'm MORBID! This was good, a little too long maybe? I don't know. I just thought the author was prolonging the end for some reason.
I have not been able to find a really good mystery thriller in quite sometime, so it was quite a pleasure to come across this book.

The story is mostly based around the life of Commandant Servez, a Toulouse city cop, who is investigating not only the murders of two men, but a very expensive horse as well. These crimes were heinous in nature and it seems to be of no coincidence that they are all happening in close proximity to the local asylum that houses some of the most dangerous criminally ill
Aug 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Three and a half stars.

Bernard Minier's complex novel The Frozen Dead is a page turner. Its mystery starts with the grotesque murder of a horse and proceeds to a number of other murders of the human variety that seem to be connected. It is the job of Minier's stubborn detective Servaz and his team to place all of the clues together As you might imagine, Servaz is not necessarily thrilled to be assigned a killing of a horse as a homicide case but since the horse was the favorite steed of rich ind
The Frozen Dead by Bernard Minier Once in a while I land myself with a book that helps me in reassuring myself that all is well with crime writing and THE FROZEN DEAD by Bernard Minier was one of those. All along I have maintained that what I look for most in a Mystery or a thriller is the plot. Most of the times my ratings depend upon the pace and the tightness of the plot, and added to those two very important aspect, I also look for twists. Not someone to shy away from a generous offering, I ...more
Janette Fleming
May 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Saint-Martin-de-Comminges is a small town nestled in the French Pyrenees. The kind of place where winters are harsh and unforgiving and where nothing ever happens.
Until the winter morning when a group of workers discover the headless, flayed body of a horse, hanging suspended from the edge of a frozen cliff.
On the same day the gruesome discovery takes place, Diane Berg, a young psychiatrist starts her first job at a high-security asylum for the criminally insane, just a few miles away. She is ba
Tanja Berg
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of criminal fiction
Rating 4.4* / 5. This is the best crime novel I have read since "Before the fall" by Noah Hawley. Even the translation from French to English didn't bother me, so I'm glad about this particular choice.

A horse has been found strung up in the Pyrenees and since its owner is the well-known business man Eric Lombard, the police need to get involved. The Tolouse city cop Servaz hasn't gotten far into investigation of the horse business before the first person turns up dead. DNA found at the site poin
Jul 12, 2017 rated it liked it
On the one hand, this book slightly annoys me. On the other, it was thrilling in many respects. The characters are pretty much well drawn. Though, there is a tendacy for the focus to be on the women's looks. The book also fails the Bechdel test. Yeah, I know it is for movies, but you can apply to books to. For instance, in this book there is Samira, a police woman who the reader is never allowed to forget has a beautiful body but an ugly face. She is also the only minority character in the book, ...more
Elaine Tomasso
Feb 15, 2017 rated it liked it
A thoroughbred horse is found hanging from a cable car stationin a Pyrenees town, St Martin de Comminges and Commandant Martin Servaz is not happy to be sent from Toulouse to investigate, especially when he discovers that the horse belongs to Eric Lombard, one of the richest men in France. The mystery of how the horse got there begins to intrigue him as he realises it is probably just the start of something worse.

I was intrigued by the premise of this novel but the execution lets it down. The no
This first novel, translated from the French, opens with a horrific image of a mutilated horse, hung high off an isolated mountaintop - a mountaintop that lies only a few kilometers away from a unique asylum full of Europe’s worst murderers and criminally insane inmates. The Institute simultaneously welcomes with not-so-open arms a new psychologist, Dr. Diane Berg. Diane’s story parallels the investigation that starts with the murder of the horse by Toulouse investigator, Commandant Martin Serva ...more
Heather Fineisen
Aug 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Frozen Dead is a slow chill that eventually finally overtakes you. You hear about dangerous treks in the Pyrenees where people get lost and freeze--well this is one of them. A brooding French detective and a homicide investigation of a rich man's horse open this tale and it gets weirder. An asylum with only the most criminally insane in the world, strange summer camps, a long list of suspects for the careful reader. Are you freezing yet? This reminds me of how I felt reading Girl with the Dr ...more
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
French author Minier’s assured debut adroitly combines a genuinely creepy series of crimes, a literally chilling atmosphere, and a dogged detective. Commandant Martin Servaz, of the regional crime unit in Toulouse, is annoyed to be pulled off the sadistic murder of a homeless man for a case that doesn’t even involve homicide. The mutilated and beheaded corpse of a horse was left suspended at a cable car terminus, terrifying the workers at a water power plant that the tram services. The horse bel ...more
Nancy Oakes
like a 3.8

The Frozen Dead is definitely not a cozy read; it's more of a police procedural where the cops are faced with some pretty grisly crimes. Some of the storyline seemed a little out there at times, but more on that later. Overall, though, it definitely held my interest and the nearly 500 pages flew by because I got so caught up in it all.

[if you want plot, you can click through to the crime page of my online reading journal; here you'll just get what I thought of the book.]

There are re
SoWrongItsRANDI {Bell, Book & Candle}
Bell, Book & Candle | The Frozen Dead Review

I am pleased to say that this was a great psychological, mystery thriller! It's not everyday that you come across a book that keeps you guessing until the end. With its twists and turns, this novel gave me heart palpitations and left me unable to guess the final outcome of the plot.

"If there's one thing we do learn in this job," he said, "it is that people are rarely what they seem. And that everyone has something to hide." - Servaz

The POV shifts betw
May 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Frozen Dead

Set in the French Pyrenees in December, the story is told from two points of view. Commandant Martin Servaz from Toulouse has been called in to investigate the grotesque display of an expensive horse, beheaded and hung in a manner intended to shock and disturb. Servaz is the main focus, but a young psychologist who arrives at an isolated and experimental asylum for the the criminally also has a role in imparting the story.

Initially, Servaz is surprised and annoyed to be investiga
Jul 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
I have been reading a lot less crime novels the past year, and the ones I did read weren’t always great, in most cases just decent. I’m a huge fan of Nesbo, but his last two books (more novella’s in truth) didn’t reach his usual quality. Also the “Girl on the Train” was only a good book, but not outstanding. This one is however the best crime novel I’ve read lately.

The story starts of great with a bizarre ‘find’ by a couple of engineers in an electrical plant high in the mountains. A horse has b
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.75* (on audiobook) [its a little spoilery but not really]

so basically I read the first novel in this series after the second one, I know, it’s FINE ???

I have to say that I liked this more than the second one which is funny bc now I can’t tell you why I liked it more, bc the book was better or bc this was my second one with these characters lol

let’s put it like this: Minier TRIES.
he tries representation, he tries character depth, he tries at the endless confusion of a mystery (which, in this ca
Oct 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Inspector Servaz is not happy to be called off the violent murder of a homeless man to investigate the mutilation of a horse even if it happens to be the favourite animal of a multi-millionaire. However, the crime is so bizarre , he becomes intrigued despite himself – the beheaded corpse of the horse has been left suspended from a cable car terminus at a power plant. Despite the obvious fact that this would have required a great deal of effort, the guards at the plant claim to have no idea how t ...more
Sep 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
When I saw the size of this book, I thought: "Maybe I'll just read a few pages to see what it is like." I really didn't think I would read the entire book. But I was wrong. Despite being set in France, which has a complicated system of law enforcement, and not being familiar with the local or French names, I was drawn into an intriguing story. The characters are multi-layered and interesting. It is suspenseful, but not really scary. I'm glad I read it before winter because the writer describes t ...more
Marina Sofia
Thrilling start to this crime novel set in the Pyrenees, certainly had me eager to read as quickly as possible. Great build-up but felt a little let down by the ending. Some interesting, complex characters, although there are also some rather flat, cliche ones.
Zoe Radley
Dec 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Magnificent absolutely fantastic loved how spine tingling and eerie the atmosphere felt throughout the book and loads of twists and turns simple yet enthralling. I have now found another author to follow want to read the next one
Oumaima Karim Allah
One of the best thrillers I've ever read !

Highly recommending it.
James Maine
Apr 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Frozen Dead was a pretty good book. I really like mysteries and thrillers so it was an entertaining read. Be aware that the book was originally written in French so some words have not been translated into English. For example the word lycée mean high school in English. If you do not like gruesome and grotesque scene you shouldn't read these book as the victims are often mangled by the killer. The novel revolves around two points of view, commandant Servaz a police investigator and Diane Ber ...more
Jordana Diengdoh
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-fiction
A brilliantly written crime novel with excellent translation in English. The first time I read it was from the library. I wanted a copy of my own and glad to have bought it and read again. I like the way Minier build the suspense by a subtle use of words that contributed to make it more effective. His characters come to life as down to earth people with their own flaws and limitations but unflailing in their sense of duty.
Lil' Bamboo
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Whoah. Just Whoah.
Bryan Williams
Started reading this as a way to practice reading French. I was happy at first because the premise is pretty intriguing, however the slow pace and annoying characters made it a chore to continue, especially when there were so many new words to look up. I can’t believe it took me almost two years to finish! Will be sure to choose a shorter French novel next time...
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Bernard Minier grew up in the foothills of the French Pyrenees. He had a career as a customs official before publishing his first novel, The Frozen Dead, in 2011. The novel has been translated into a dozen languages and has garnered critical acclaim as well as several literary prizes in France. Minier lives in the Essonne, south of Paris.

Other books in the series

Commandant Martin Servaz (6 books)
  • The Circle (Commandant Martin Servaz, #2)
  • N'éteins pas la lumière (Commandant Martin Servaz, #3)
  • Nuit (Commandant Martin Servaz, #4)
  • Soeurs (Commandant Martin Servaz, #5)
  • La vallée

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