Out in the Cold by Stuart Johnstone – Book Review

Title: Out in the Cold

Author: Stuart Johnstone

Genre: Crime/Thriller

Publisher: Allison & Busby

Publication Date: 19th November 2020

Rating: 5/5



Intuition is everything in the police force, something that Sergeant Don Colyear knows better than most.

When a superior officer’s decision not to respond to a routine disturbance has fatal consequences, Colyear finds himself sent away from Glasgow to work in a remote Highlands town.

Despite not wanting to be there, a feeling shared by his commander, Colyear soon settles into life investigating petty crimes. But it isn’t long before he discovers something strange about the town. A string of teenage disappearances seems to have been ignored by the authorities. And when a groundsman from the local sporting estate is gruesomely murdered, Colyear suspects that long-held secrets could be coming to the surface.

As he delves further into the town’s history, it isn’t long before his own life is at risk.


I am always excited when a book is set in my lovely Scotland, especially when it’s in the crime genre, and Out in the Cold is such a brilliantly evocative and compelling example of just that. The story follows Sergeant Don Colyear who, after a serious incident involving a superior officer, is posted far from Glasgow to a remote fictional Scottish town in the Highlands where it initially seems there is very little to keep him occupied. However, Don soon begins to unravel the darkness hiding beneath this small and insular community and finds himself in more than one dangerous situation.

I was completely gripped by Out in the Cold from the very beginning. The author is a former police officer which lends the story a real authenticity and he has created a genuinely likeable yet complex main character in Don Colyear. This book is a bit of slow burn, which I love in this kind of story. It spends time letting the reader get to know the main players and building a real sense of intense atmosphere present in the small town of Stratharder. Out in the Cold is a fantastic police procedural which gives a real insight into what truly makes a good police officer and also what makes a bad one. The relationships between Don and the people he encounters in his new home all feel so genuine and I got really quite invested in them, especially the friendship and mentorship between Don and the young and enthusiastic Stratharder police officer he is essentially partnered with, Rowan. The plot is a fascinating web of corruption, lies and underlying darkness whilst also jumping backwards occasionally to show us the shocking events that led to Don being essentially exiled to the Highlands. Once I got to a certain point I honestly could not stop reading this book until I knew how everything was going to resolve itself and I sincerely hope this is the beginning of a series because I would love to read more Don Colyear books in the future. An atmospheric, intelligent and engrossing work of Scottish crime fiction which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I kindly received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is entirely my own honest opinion.

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