When a man turns up at a police station on Christmas Day saying he has buried a corpse, police are led to a naked body dumped in a frozen snowbank. Claiming that he and his fiancé, Barbara Hoffman, discovered the stranger in her apartment, Jerry Davies insists they know nothing about the dead man. However, when police begin their investigation, they uncover a tale of deception, insurance fraud and cyanide poisoning.
In any true-crime story, we expect certain things: references to police reports, official documents and personal letters, as well as actual evidence that backs up the author’s point of view. This is not one of those books. In a note at the beginning of the paperback version, Karl Harter says this book is the result of ‘extensive research and scores of interviews’. He also records how he has ‘dramatically emphasised’ some scenes. Well, that is certainly true, for Harter ignores the usual set-up and instead goes off at a tangent at regular intervals, imagining what certain people are thinking about, looking at, or doing with their hands. He also spends a lot of time relating intimate details of Hoffman’s sexual encounters, which seems inappropriate at the very least.
Maybe I’m just being picky but reading about real events is only interesting when we are given the facts rather than imagined scenarios. In ‘Winter of Frozen Dreams’ I’m left with the feeling that the author’s writing style would have worked better in a novel. Of course, this is only my opinion and I may well be doing him a disservice, and to be fair, the last section of the book which details the eventual court case, is positively riveting. But all in all, this is an interesting and thought-provoking case that could have been expressed far more effectively.