Set in the aftermath of World War II Britain, Cold Snap is an evocative, moody, almost depressing novel about living life within the confines of strict societal protocol and the secrecy it brings out in human nature. Michael, a former RAF pilot and current fellow at an Oxford College, and his cousin Christine, former Special Operations Executive, befriend four German prisoners settled in an encampment on the outskirts of town. Inevitably tangled relationships develop between Christine and Thomas and Michael and Klaus. Christine and Thomas bond over a shared love of music, though from the start their relationship seems tired and cold, fraught with the prejudices of the time; initially you wonder, except for the thrill of secrecy, what exactly they are seeking from each other. Michael yearns for the once robust Klaus, making this affair lonely and one-sided; had it been explored more fully, it would have been far more interesting than the whiny Christine’s.
King has taken this opportunity to examine this period in history from a unique perspective using deft, dark language and symbolism to create a rather lovely though depressing novel. Each of King’s characters has a purpose, partakes of the story, and adds to the details, building to a satisfying closure for this unpolished little gem.