Out in the Cold by Stuart Johnstone #bookreview @story_stuart @AllisonandBusby

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the chilling novel by Stuart Johnstone, Out in the Cold.

Out in the Cold: The thrillingly authentic Scottish crime debut (Sergeant Don Colyear Book 1) by [Stuart Johnstone]


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 loved Out in the Cold by Stuart Johnstone. If you’re a fan of Paul Finch’s DS Mark Heckenburg series, then you need to give this a go. It’s pacy, addictive and really atmospheric.

When Don Colyear arrives in a remote Highlands town, after being transferred there from Glasgow, he isn’t exactly given a warm reception. In fact, his new boss tells him from the start that he didn’t want him there, and his placement in the town does seem strange as well. The police station is due to close within weeks, so what will happen to him after then? But there is a disturbing reason why he isn’t made to feel particularly welcome. Soon, Don finds himself very close to danger.

I love a crime novel set in an isolated location. There is tension right from the moment Don arrives in the town, and the setting made me feel very uncomfortable. I wanted to know why there was so much animosity towards Don when he first arrived. If I was in his position, I would have wanted to leave on the first day, particularly as the station was closing down soon anyway. There are times as well when Don himself questions why he stays.

But Don immediately feels that there isn’t something right about the town. Soon he becomes aware of reports of teenagers going missing. It is presumed they have run off to get out the town where there isn’t much going on. But Don thinks there is something more going on here. He also seems to be the only person interested in the disappearance, apart from the teenager’s parents. This I found really disturbing. I wanted to know what was going on here and I was rooting for Don to get to the truth. It’s what makes him stay as he knows that there is something here which he needs to get to the bottom of.

The pace in this novel flowed really well, and I loved the dialogue. I wouldn’t say it was, on the whole, a fast-paced read, but there are some taut scenes which had me on the edge of my seat. Stuart Johnstone describes these moments in the book really well, and the writing makes it feel as though the action is happening right in front of you. We also learn some intriguing things about Don as well, which does, in a way, give the novel a hint of a supernatural element to it as well.

Out in the Cold is a must-read for police procedural fans. I’m hoping that there are going to many more books to come in this series.

Publisher: Allison & Busby

Publication date: 19th November 2020

Print length: 320 pages

Out in the Cold is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

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