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Thursday, 24 May 2012

There's a Frost about again...

The author of a popular series dies and the series dies with him - not necessarily so, just ask James Bond, Sherlock Holmes and even good old Count Dracula. Those three are still alive and kicking - OK maybe with the latter character it's undead and kicking - and their creators are long gone.

Yep bringing back characters after the original author cashes in his/her chips is nothing new.

This last month saw the hardcover publication of Fatal Frost by James Henry, actually , a pseudonym for James Gurbut.

Now the character of Jack Frost was a troublesome creation and radio dramatist R D Wingfield struggled to get his first Frost novel into print.  Frost at Christmas failed to find a publisher for many years. It was written in the mid 1970's but  was eventually published in Canada in 1980,not appearing in Britain until 1989. Five more novels followed: A Touch of Frost (produced as a radio play in 1987 and published as a novel in 1990), Night Frost (1992), Hard Frost (1995), Winter Frost (1999) and A Killing Frost (published posthumously in 2008).

 David Jason was an early fan of the novels, being introduced to the character by his friend Ronnie Barker who had once intended to play Frost for radio, and was largely responsible for bringing Frost to television in 1992, as a vehicle for his move towards more serious and dramatic roles in his illustrious acting career.

Frost was a huge success on TV but in order to meet the demands of prime time the character was considerably softened from the excellent source novels - that's not to say the TV series wasn't good, it was but it was different.

 And that's the thing with these continuation novels - they are not the Frost of the books but the Frost of the TV series. True they are prequels and Frost is still a detective sergeant here but they feel and read like the TV series - not that this is a bad thing, but if you want to sample the real Frost you need to read the original novels. However I must add that I've yet to read Fatal Frost - I only picked up my copy this morning - and my opinions are drawn from the previous novel, First Frost which, although I thought it was excellent, I did feel it was more David Jason than Jack Frost. Still I'm looking forward to reading Fatal Frost.

May, 1982. Britain celebrates the sinking of the Belgrano, Jimmy Savile (not yet exposed as a perv with a penchant for young girls)  has the run of the airwaves and Denton Police Division welcomes its first black policeman, DC Waters -- recently relocated from Bethnal Green. While the force is busy dealing with a spate of local burglaries, the body of fifteen-year-old Samantha Evans is discovered in woodland next to the nearby railway track. Then a fifteen-year-old boy is found dead on Denton's golf course, his organs removed. Detective Sergeant Jack Frost is sent to investigate -- a welcome distraction from troubles at home. And when the murdered boy's sister goes missing, Frost and Waters must work together to find her... before it's too late.

Crime fans will welcome the return of Jack Frost and just so you all know - I picked up me gleaming new hardcover in ASDA this morning for £7, which is even cheaper than offering the hardcover. In fact it's a good half a quid cheaper than the Kindle download.

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