Sunday, January 29, 2012

Robert Knightly's The Cold Room

In this book we are drawn at once into a story with themes of human love, the struggles of a decent NYPD cop, the sale, slavery and violent abuse of Eastern European illegal immigrants - young women bought, sold and destroyed in a global business that portrays the worst in human barbarism.

THE COLD ROOM is a tale that might jump out at us in the pages of today's Times or the Post. The horror and sadness are paired exquisitely with the timeless story of human relationships, both sexual and platonic. We are absorbed in a delicate dance between Detective Harry Corbin and his former partner, Adele Bentibi. Vivid, passionate, yet sincere and tender, these people get inside our heads and challenge our own skills in interpersonal relationships. We walk along the streets of New York in an unfolding drama that is raw, poetic, gentle as a flower unfolding, solid as stone.

The beginning of the book is not for the faint-hearted. The early scenes set the stage for the development of the intricately woven plot and the revelations of multi-textured characters on an unforgettable stage that seduces you and locks you into its breathless embrace.

Few novels promise so profoundly — "In the beginning is the end..." Knightly succeeds in what every serious novelist tries to do — he makes you laugh. He makes you cry.

Change the setting from the boroughs of New York City to Helsinki or Stockholm, Berlin or Lisbon. Any global urban melting pot — and the novel still soars as a well-constructed art form. And work that entertains. Human love and respect share dazzling levels of insight into the psyches of the main characters. The mutual respect of the cop for the nun; the professional religious woman for the dedication of the cop.

The author's ubiquitous desciptions of both majestic nature and seedy urban environments soar like verbal eagles! The author weaves nature constantly in and out of the exposed live wires of human emotion and psychological tensions. At times the reader has to stop to catch his breath at the blatant cruelty of nature that is somehow translated into sheer poetry.

Intricacies of sexual tension are woven into the pages seamlessly, with both the delicacy of a spring violet and the force of a summer thunderbolt.

The author has the good sense to infuse many key scenes with humor — in several minor characters who appear on stage for their unforgettable fifteen minutes!

This story is a model for how to write a gripping suspense novel — with ascending steps that ratchet up the tension. Just when you think you've got the answer to the intricate plot puzzle, you get another shock — unexpected — yet completely plausible!

Through both poetic flights and gruelling action scenes, the author pummels you with the raw sides of real life, til you think he's led you — at last — to the top of the mountain — once more — then — WHAM — he knocks you off your feet! Again.

When you close the last page you realize no neophyte could write this story!

On the levels where the author demonstrates skill and knowledge - the cop psyche, knowledge of legal procedures , organizational structure of the intricate world of the NYPD, the inexplicable blending of human and animal nature, this author taps into your veins as deftly as a Euripides, a Shakespeare, a Hemingway.

P.S. I have purposely avoided plot description here — since an attempt to do so would weaken your enjoyment of the book.

Thelma Straw


  1. This is a fantastic review. It makes me want to run out and get that book, or order it on line, but get my hands on what sounds like what's going to be a danged good read!!

  2. Thanks, Marge, and, above all, THANKS, Thelma! (How perceptive y'all are!)

  3. I am 1/2 way into the book. As a former NYPD police officer and co-author with Mo Dahnia of "Latin Blues" & "True Blue:A tale of the enemy within", I can't seem to put this book down,rushing back from my busy schedule for more suspenseful reading. So far it looks like Robert Knightly's book, "The Cold Room" is going to get a five star rating from me.