The perfect novel for these cold January nights, The Second Stranger is a killer debut from Martin Griffin, a brilliant new voice in crime fiction.
This outstanding thriller marries compelling, nuanced characterisation with exquisite setting and incredible tension. Like the best crime fiction, it introduces a protagonist to really root for. Remie Yorke is a singular creation who is ready to start her life again, away from the ghost of her brother, from the isolating hotel where she works, from the oppressive landscape of the Scottish Highlands. Everything she does in this novel is with this goal in mind and she will go to dangerous lengths to achieve it.
But in her way are two men who claim to want to help her. They are both convincing, but one is a liar. A fraud. Even a murderer. With no idea who to trust, Remie can only rely on herself, and Martin Griffin expertly creates an environment in which every detail is scrutinised until a nail-biting twist turns everything on its head.
The final obstacle is the freezing landscape itself. Griffin evokes the Scottish Highlands with vivid attention to detail; indeed, it becomes a character in its own right. As the temperature drops and the mountain groans under the weight of the blizzard, readers will shiver from the icy wind, hear the crows calling across the mountains, feel the chill of snow on their face . . .
This is definitely not a novel to be missed, and one that will stay with me for a very long time.