COLD BLOOD - puchase

© 2014 James Fleming - Damnable Iron

I LEARNED from my postbag that many readers understood from the ending of White Blood that Charlie was going to quit Russia for Chicago, where he reckoned he could get employment at the Field Museum.  Not so!  Very much not so!  Charlie was drunk as a cork when he uttered the last words in White Blood.  He had no intention of leaving Russia.  Only one reason for living existed for him: to find and kill Prokhor Fyodorovich Glebov, the Bolshevik fanatic who’d led the vile assault on Charlie’s wife, Elizaveta.  Convinced that Glebov will sooner or later turn up at Lenin’s side, he hunkers down in St Petersburg and waits.  The October Revolution occurs and Lenin takes power.  Charlie discovers that Glebov has been appointed a Commissar, behind only Trotsky in the power structure. The chase begins…

Not since the film of Dr Zhivago has a Russian train journey been so spectacular.  Charlie captures an armoured train, assembles a private army and fights his way towards Ekaterinburg in pursuit of Glebov.  Near Kazan, he hears of the existence in the city of the Tsar’s gold reserves.  At the same time, he meets up with Leapforth Jones, an American secret agent who’s been sent by President Wilson to gather information about the Reds.  But Jones is not the man he appears to be, and when Charlie gets to Kazan he finds Glebov waiting for him.  Thus the hunter becomes the hunted…

What the papers said…

‘A class act …Fleming is a brilliant pacy storyteller with a muscular prose style.’

(Max Davidson in The Mail on Sunday)

‘If writers can be divided into minimalists and maximalists, then Fleming is out there on the militant wing of the maximalists…relentless energy and garrulous black humour …an original and talented voice.’

(Adam Lively in The Sunday Times)

‘Stupendous…Fleming’s text sings.’

(Andrew Barrow in The Literary Review)

‘The prose is tight, brusque and colourful…A bare outline gives little idea of the sheer energy of the novel. However, it’s not for the squeamish…’

(Andrew Taylor in The Spectator)

‘The style is sharp, but relaxed and very accessible.  The ear for dialogue is well-nigh perfect.  The research is worn lightly too, with little in the way of obvious exposition but a lot of accurate atmosphere…For much of the book the pages turn themselves – apart from those times when you’re slightly nervous about what you’re going to find overleaf.  If this type of book appeals to you, then it’s definitely recommended as being one of the best of the genre.’

(Sue McGee in The Bookbag)

‘Not a word wasted or superfluous…as in his previous books, Fleming provides us with a solid supporting cast of the mad, bad and downright grotesque…above them all rises our hero, Charlie Doig, flawed, arrogant, opinionated and ruthless, a superbly drawn man of his times.  Like White Blood…a full-blooded adventure story of the sort that sadly no-one writes any more.’

(Drew MacLeod in The John O’Groat Journal)

‘Formidably written: muscular prose, salty dialogue, vivid imagery...more than that it has a distinct atmosphere and Fleming has made a fine job of getting into the minds of men with nothing to lose.’

(Toby Clements in The Daily Telegraph)

‘This is a thriller, no bones about it.  It operates by hitting its marks and folding its back-stories as precisely as a 120-page movie script….Fleming defies you to nit-pick about characterisation and related trivia with the sheer energy and inventiveness of a prose style (“God damn all thinkers”; “Russia, oh Russia!  World without end…”) that is perfectly suited to the grotesqueries of his subject.  That subject is Russia, and revenge, and a bit of redemption…

Into the pursuit of the flabby, dwarfish, sub-Blofeld Glebov by the towering, irresistible, beyond-Bond Charlie Doig are dragged a seductress who makes her first move in a crowded tram, a Mongolian psychopath on a horse called Tornado, a preposterous American cryptographer and, of course, an armoured train.

For anyone who feels that there aren’t enough armoured trains in today’s popular fiction, or enough murderous White Russian with God and destiny on their side – and I am one – this book is a must.

(Giles Whittell in The Times)


“One detects the hand of a master” The Sunday Telegraph