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Monday 12 October 2015

White is the Coldest Colour by John Nicholl


This is quite a book. It focusses on a very unpleasant and highly distressing subject…or rather, crime…and I confess I was a little apprehensive about how the story was going to unfold and if I really wanted to know, even. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book in which I’ve loathed one of the main characters right from the get-go—as in, the very first page. I should add that this is the author’s intention; he (the character, that is!) is quite simply a loathsome, evil person. Strangely, this makes the story very compelling.

What we have here is a novel with paedophilia as its core. Please don’t rush off with a ‘Sorry, not a subject I want to read about’. This is a story in the very capable hands of an experienced police officer and child-protection social worker who has seen things he very probably wishes he hadn’t. In his own words, it’s ‘dedicated to survivors everywhere’.

Dr David Galbraith is a child psychiatrist, upheld as an expert and talented man in his field. But the exterior hides a sadistic, murderous predator, a vile and controlling human being. Seven-year-old Anthony isn’t handling his parents’ break-up too well, so he is referred to the best: Galbraith. A dangerous, potentially tragic move.

I really couldn’t tear myself away from this book. You’re committed to finding out how disgusting and heinous this man wants to be. All the characters were brilliantly conceived: from the villains to the victims. Galbraith’s wife is one who makes quite an impression.

The topic is harsh and hard-hitting, but the story was very well executed. It was powerful, and I can highly recommend it…but beware of the lack of editing. Apart from the ‘usual suspects’, there was a rather annoying overuse of the ellipsis (I did a search and discovered it was used 558 times. Good grief!). And then there was the characters’ irritating habit of calling each other by name in most of their dialogues. So if you simply can’t overlook under-editing, perhaps it might be worth waiting (and hoping) that a more polished version is eventually uploaded.

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