Review

Cold Comfort

by Don Bredes



Don Bredes is not exactly a household name right now, a situation
that is somewhat puzzling to me, and one that I would hope to be
temporary. COLD COMFORT is his third novel, so he's not exactly
flooding the market with quantity, choosing instead to raise the
tide with quality. And COLD COMFORT does just that.

COLD COMFORT, from its opening paragraph to its last pages, reminds
me of THE LAST GOOD KISS by James Crumley. That is not to say that
COLD COMFORT is a slavish imitation, or tribute, or pastiche, or
whatever, of Crumley's masterpiece. No, it is none of those. It is
similar in the sense that it places Hector Bellevance, its troubled
protagonist, in a seldom visited setting --- northern Vermont, in
this case --- to tread quietly but patiently through a forest full
of lies to an uneasy conclusion, all the while keeping the reader
fascinated.

Bellevance is an ex-cop and ex-husband who moves his shattered life
from Boston to Tipton, his northern Vermont hometown, where he ekes
out a quiet, small town existence raising vegetables on property he
inherited from his mother. He is offered the vacant position of
town constable, which he accepts with considerable reluctance,
though the title is little more than ceremonial and involves
haphazard enforcement of local nuisance laws. All of that changes
dramatically when a transplanted Canadian couple living just down
the street from him are brutally murdered. Spud, a somewhat simple
but personally complicated potato farmer and Bellevance's
half-brother, discovers the bodies under somewhat suspicious
circumstances and becomes the primary suspect when it is discovered
that he has lied about these circumstances and his involvement with
one of the victims.

Bellevance, motivated as much by his sense of duty to his brother
as to his gut feeling that Spud, in Bellevance's words, "just
doesn't have it in him," begins his own investigation. Bellevance
soon finds that he has few friends when he begins exposing the dark
side of his small town to sunlight. Everyone, it seems, has
secrets, and everyone --- from Spud to members of the state police
--- is lying. Bellevance's most difficult problem, besides
ascertaining who killed the victims, is why.

Bredes hopefully has many more books left to write. This reader,
for one, wouldn't mind at all if he took us back to Tipton for
another visit with Hector Bellevance.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 21, 2011

Cold Comfort
by Don Bredes

  • Publication Date: March 13, 2001
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony
  • ISBN-10: 0609606875
  • ISBN-13: 9780609606872