“Red Snow” by Michael Slade
Fiction, Winter Olympics, skiing, snowboarding, murder mystery
4 of 5 stars (outstanding)
A quaint British Columbia village, Whistler, that is hosting the Olympic trials before the Winter Olympics in Vancouver is the setting for Michael Slade’s thriller “Red Snow.” It is part of his Special X series on the Canadian Royal Mounted Police and while it does have characters that are in Slade’s other books of the series, this reads fine as a stand-alone and the reader does not have to read the other books in order to gain an understanding of the story or characters.
A narcissistic, psychotic killer known as Mesphisto has a diabolical plot that would ultimately wipe out 90% of the world’s population. He chooses this setting and time for two reasons. One is that because security around the Vancouver Games would be focused on the Games themselves, he would be better able to launch his plan. The second is more personal, because the chief of the Special X division of the RCMP, Robert DeClerque, along with a few other people can indentify Mesphisto and they must be eliminated before the plan can be done.
There is not a lot of description about the sport of skiing or snowboarding, although a couple of the murders do take place on the slopes. The book opens with the murder of a snowboarder while on the course, and another one takes place in a chair lift. I felt this book would still be appropriate for inclusion on this site as it is a sporting event in which the story is set and some of the action takes place there. There won’t be any descriptions of the sport. However, many of the chapters do begin with a historical or geographical reference that is important in helping to set the mood or context of the events to take place in that chapter.
All of the usual aspects of a murder mystery or thriller are in this story: revenge, murder (this story does have a high body count), sex, character development, personal reflection on “what if” or “what will happen if” and a wide variety of both villains and protagonists. I thought it was an entertaining read, although at times I felt that there were too many characters, historical references and murders to tie everything together that I got confused. But by the end of the story, it all came together which is what a good story should do.
Did I skim?
Were the characters realistic?
I didn’t think so. Whether it was the mastermind behind the murders and mass genocide plot, his minions who were doing the work, the Canadian Mounties or the young girls, they all had an unrealistic sense about them. This isn't to say that they were portrayed or developed poorly. I just didn't get the sense that these characters are someone I would meet in regular life, especially the three snow bunnies in the lodge.
Pace of the story:
Very good. The historical references to start most chapters slowed it down slightly, but they were very important to the overall story.
Do I recommend?
Yes. While there wasn't a lot about the winter sports in the story, the setting and plot were developed because of a sporting event. Therefore sports fans may enjoy this book as well as fans of mysteries or thrillers.