Cold is Jim Pearce’s first thriller novel. The scene is set as “near future”. Global warming has created rising temperatures worldwide, resulting in intense fires. The ash and soot from these fires blocked out the sunlight, so much so that the world converted into a frozen landscape. A few years on from this, the resulting cold is so extreme that the deep arctic conditions means that most humans have been starved or frozen to death. Resources, fuel, adequate clothing, and food are scarce. Services, particularly electricity and communications, have totally failed. Most shops have been abandoned and looted, and dead bodies are scattered where they dropped, even in roads. Humanity is reduced to small groups of survivors, scavenging wherever and whatever they can, with bands of them resorting to violence to obtain enough food and fuel to survive.
The narrator and his eight-member group (plus a dog) have somehow survived and are hiding in a house in Surrey. They have developed a hydroponics farm for food and a small biomass generator for rough alcohol and electricity and have a camouflaged entrance for security. However, a hostile roaming gang arrive so the group decide to run, but to where? Perhaps the continent across the frozen sea. Pearce’s thriller concentrates on the group’s journey and the physical problems presented at such extreme cold conditions, including a roaming polar bear, a snowstorm across the sea, plus the fracturing of group dynamics, with unexpected emotional interactions. Their journey takes many unexpected twists and nasty turns as the group, or what now remains of the group, find innovative ways to survive.
I found the style of writing a page turner, full of action and suspense that was difficult to put down, right until the end at page 246. What happens then? Maybe we have to wait for Pearce’s sequel. How the remaining group managed to keep warm and nourished keeps the story captivating, making it a riveting read, with cliffhangers all the way. Cold is a thrilling climate change novel. It could be a good read whilst travelling or on holiday. Perhaps it could be a book club selection, where discussions on survival or repercussions on climate change or social preparedness might abound.
Reviewed by Richard Dawe
BY: J. Pearce (2023). Troubador. 247 pp. (pbk)
PRICE: £9.99 www.troubador.co.uk