Summary and book reviews of The Frozen Dead by Bernard Minier

The Frozen Dead

by Bernard Minier

The Frozen Dead by Bernard Minier X
The Frozen Dead by Bernard Minier
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2014, 496 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2015, 496 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kate Braithwaite

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About this Book

Book Summary

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 baffled by the slightly unorthodox methods the asylum's director uses, and then greatly alarmed when she realizes that drugs are disappearing from within the fortified institution while someone seems to be slipping out at night.

Commandant Martin Servaz, a charismatic city cop from nearby Toulouse fond of quoting Latin, can't believe he has been called out over the death of an animal. But there's something disturbing about this crime that he can't ignore. Then DNA from one of the most notorious inmates of the asylum, a highly intelligent former prosecutor, accused of killing and raping several women, is found on the horse carcass... and a few days later the first human murder takes place. A dark story of madness and revenge seems to be unfolding.

Servaz and his colleague, the mysterious Irene Ziegler, must use all their skill to solve the terrifying mystery and best one of the most fiendish and clever opponents they could ever imagine.

translator's note

The French justice system is somewhat different from that elsewhere. Under French law, when it is believed that a crime has been committed, an officer of the crime unit will inform the district public prosecutor, who in turn appoints an examining magistrate to the case. Investigations are conducted under the supervision of these magistrates, who answer to the Ministry of Justice. Crimes may be investigated by police commissioners from the crime unit, along with commissioned officers of the gendarmerie.

The Frozen Dead

FROM:
DIANE BERG
GENEVA

TO:
DR WARGNIER
WARGNIER PSYCHIATRIC INSTITUTE
SAINT-MARTIN-DE-COMMINGES

Diane Berg – Curriculum vitae
Psychologist, Swiss Federation of Psychologists (FSP)
Specialist in Forensic Psychology (SSPL)

Date of Birth: 16 July 1976
Nationality: Swiss

Diplomas:
2002: Master of advanced studies in clinical psychology (DES), University of Geneva. Dissertation: 'Instinctual Economy, Necrophilia and Dismembering among ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Every character, is rounded, believable and enjoyable to spend time with. The story is full of all the expected, unexpected twists and revelations of the genre, but every surprise is believable and each player, good and bad, is intriguing to get to know. The novel takes perhaps a little longer than it should, to get going. But once the stage is fully set, and Minier has all his pieces in place, the pace is excellent, the drama every bit as riveting and the climax as nail-biting as any thriller lover could demand.   (Reviewed by Kate Braithwaite).

Full Review (638 words).

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Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

A high-altitude thriller, this novel is a great summer read for more than the usual reasons.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. French author Minier's assured debut adroitly combines a genuinely creepy series of crimes, a literally chilling atmosphere, and a dogged detective.

Booklist

Starred Review. The pervasiveness of evil in this tense and disturbing novel makes for very compelling reading,with the suspense bordering on horror.

The Sunday Times (UK)

Revenge is at the heart of this clever mystery, which involves a plot as cold-blooded as the slaying of the horse

The Daily Mail (UK)

A publishing sensation in France, where it's rushed up the bestseller lists, this is Minier's first crime novel and this translation justifies its vast French reputation.

Literary Review (UK)

This densely written and very atmospheric thriller is Minier's first novel. It has been a bestseller in France and, in this well-translated English edition, deserves to be one here.

Femme Actuelle (France)

The writing is razor sharp and nothing goes to waste. Enough to make other authors jealous.

Le Figaro (France)

Remember the name Bernard Minier... he might well take his place among the masters of French thriller writers.

Le Point (France)

The Frozen Dead is a boiling-hot success.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Controversial Psychiatric Practices

The fictional Wargnier Institute in Bernard Minier's The Frozen Dead is, put simply, "a place where they lock up murderers who've been judged insane." When psychologist Diane Berg learns about the "treatment" programs offered, her fears and concerns escalate. The experience of observing a patient being "evaluated" makes Commander Servaz physically unwell.

Unfamiliar with the world of psychiatric hospitals, I was shocked by the descriptions of electro-convulsive therapy and penile plethysmography (among others), but on investigation found that they are not as uncommon as I had imagined.

Ladislas Meduna Electro-convulsive Therapy (ECT) – using electric shocks to treat psychiatric disorders in patients — was first introduced by ...

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