Dr David Galbraith #1: White is the Coldest Colour – John Nicholl

I’ve never enjoyed thinking about how many tortuous, excruciating and imaginative ways I could kill off a book villain as much as I did when reading about the big bad in White is the Coldest Colour. This is not a villain that you love to hate. This is a villain you want to suffer as much as possible before his eventual bloody demise.

Dr David Galbraith is many things. He is a husband, a father, an esteemed colleague, a renowned child psychiatrist. He is also a master manipulator and sadistic predator. He terrorises his family and his child victims alike, and he consistently gets away with it because he’s so good at what he does. He uses his intelligence to come across as charismatic and charming when the situation calls for it and because of his position in the community and his chameleonic prowess, no one suspects him. His true colours are only on display when and to whom he chooses, and if his control slips for a moment and his true self is revealed, he can easily lay on the charm and regain control.

While there’s certainly no shortage of paperback villains, Dr David Galbraith stands apart from the usual big bad in the chilling authenticity of his portrayal. The way he interacts with his wife will be hauntingly familiar to readers who have experienced the brutality of domestic violence. The calculated measures undertaken to groom the child and family of a potential new victim will shine a light on the predatory nature of child molesters.

I can’t remember the last book that genuinely scared me before this one. Give me horror, blood and guts, serial killers or clowns and I’ll enjoy watching from the sidelines, but real life? Real life can offer the scariest plots of all and the events in this book will reflect portions of some readers’ reality – and that is scary as hell to think about.

I stumbled upon this book when I found its sequel on NetGalley and needed to know what led to the events in When Evil Calls Your Name before I read Cynthia Galbraith’s story. Having never heard of this author before I’ve now found a new favourite. If John Nicholl’s other books have even echoes of the dark, gritty nature of White is the Coldest Colour then I know I need to read everything he’s ever written.

This book is definitely not for the faint of heart. It’s confronting, painful and real. Because of the author’s experience in police and child protection there’s an authenticity to the conversations and behaviours of the predators that gave me the creeps in a way I find lacking in most crime novels.

Content warnings include child abuse, paedophilia, domestic violence, torture, and murder of humans and animals.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Be careful who you trust …

The Mailer family is oblivious to the terrible danger that enters their lives when seven-year-old Anthony is referred to the child guidance service by the family GP, following the breakdown of his parents’ marriage.

Fifty-eight-year-old Dr David Galbraith, a sadistic, predatory paedophile, employed as a consultant child psychiatrist, has already murdered one child in the soundproofed cellar below the South Wales Georgian town-house he shares with his wife and two young daughters.

When Anthony becomes Galbraith’s latest obsession he will stop at nothing to make his grotesque fantasies reality.

But can Anthony be saved before it’s too late?

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