After a troubled, impoverished childhood on the west coast of Scotland, Donnie Miller now lives with his wife and son in a remote, wealthy town in Canada.
He works as a film reviewer for a small local newspaper, while entertaining dreams of being a screenwriter – though he can't finish a single script. When the northern winter begins to close in, he feels prepared. But someone is watching, and Donnie soon finds that the secrets of his past cannot be forgotten.
It's no surprise that Niven is a fan of Stephen King's The Shining, as Cold Hands features the same sense of snowed-in claustrophobia and the slow creeping of a man's inner demons. It grips from the very first page, and the plot is well paced. Halfway through it takes a sudden turn into the predictable, which is a shame, but it's still a hugely enjoyable story. One of the strongest aspects is the landscape: both the snowy wilderness of Canada and the grimness of 1980s Scotland are vividly evoked. The central mystery unfolds beautifully, and even when Donnie's secret becomes clear, the tension is maintained. Note that there are some very graphic scenes, so this is only for the strong-stomached. Don't pick up this book unless you've got a few hours free, as you won't be able to stop reading once you've started.