Cold Kill by Rennie Airth

‘He’d been watching the three workmen for an hour, though he wasn’t sure why.’

New York Actress Adelaide Banks travels to London to spend Christmas with her widowed Aunt Rose.  But when Adelaide arrives at her aunt’s Knightsbridge home, her aunt is not there.  Initially, Adelaide isn’t too concerned.  She knew that her aunt was in Paris, perhaps she’s been delayed. Adelaide settles in … but then receives two unexpected callers.  The second caller, dressed as an Arab woman, drags Adelaide through the house.  The caller is looking for something. Fortunately for Adelaide, neighbours hear the commotion and call the police.  Rose’s friend Molly also arrives.

What on earth is happening?  Where is Rose?  Who are these mysterious visitors and what are they looking for?

This is the beginning of a fast-moving, complicated story involving former intelligence staff, Russian oligarchs, hitmen and a Yazuka gangster seeking to avenge a death.  There’s a missing USB stick containing details of offshore bank accounts.  Adelaide gets caught up in all of this, and (initially, at least) it isn’t at all clear who can be trusted.  And where is Rose? 

There are plenty of twists in this mystery, and quite a few deaths.  There are some dastardly villains, and a couple of (perhaps unlikely) heroes.

‘And they would never know.’

Mr Airth kept me guessing for quite a while, trying to work out the puzzle.  While this novel is very different from Mr Airth’s John Madden series, it is clever and held my attention until the end.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Severn House for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith