Review: White is the Coldest Colour by John Nicholl

White is the Coldest Colour

Be careful who you trust…

The Mailer family are 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. Anthony becomes Galbraith’s latest obsession, and he will stop at nothing to make his grotesque fantasies reality.



I remember seeing this title a while back. The book had created quite a buzz around blogosphere. I knew I had to read it as soon as the opportunity arose.

One thing that you need to know is that this book has one of the most depraved villains. Dr. Galbraith is a twisted character with no redeeming qualities. The author gives readers a glimpse into his dark, twisted mind and his thoughts were quite scary. I found myself keenly waiting for him to meet his end or get arrested, whichever came first. At some point, I got impatient with the cops because I really wanted the case to be solved fast!

This book deals with sensitive themes of child abuse. It is not graphic but the abuse is evident so readers get to know what is going on. The story line doesn’t focus on the abuse as much as the characters and the ongoing investigation. Nevertheless, the book does start with a trigger warning. I appreciate the fact that the author decided to do this because this is definitely not going to be a book for everyone.

I thought the portrayal of the investigation was quite detailed and realistic. John Nicholls has experience working as police officer and child protection social worker and this was evident in his storytelling. The author also did a great job with the portrayal of the time period in which the story was set, 1992. One of the things that took a while to get used to was the fact that cell phones were not so common. I kept forgetting that the story is set in the early 90s and found myself getting frustrated by the characters for not using their phones and then it would hit me that most people only had landlines and phone booths back then.

Although the subject matter is quite heavy, I really liked John’s writing and how sensitive he was in portraying the theme. I also love how he created the complex, well-developed characters. The description of the time period and the setting were also well done. White is the Coldest Colour by John Nicholl is a compelling read.

21 thoughts on “Review: White is the Coldest Colour by John Nicholl

  1. I actually read the first chapter a few years ago but I wasn’t in the mood for such a heavy subject at the time and I put it down again… You really have to be in the right mood and mindset :-). I think the time has come to pick it up again now! Great review!

    1. I totally agree with you. I started reading it and almost set it aside too because of the themes. However, once the investigations began, the focus shifted a bit so it became a bit ‘easier’ to read it. You definitely have to be in the right mood and mindset though.

      Let me know when you get back to it. Thank you.

  2. Great review Diana. This guy must have been truly evil to share his actions with his family. I wonder what happened to him in the end. Sounds like one hell of a great read.

  3. I just read a historical novel with a similar theme, Winter Sisters by Robin Oliveira, it was thoroughly engaging, especially the historical context, as it centers around the fact that in NY in the 1870’s the age of consent for females was 10 years old, which is shocking and then you find out all the legal ramifications for that, it’s such an eye opener and the impact of those times and that attitude continue to reverberate through society today, the laws seem to have been made to protect the powerful, rarely the victim.
    Great review Diana, it’s amazing how quickly we’ve adapted to portable telephones, it wasn’t so long ago that we had to manage our lives in such a different way.

    1. I have read your review of the Winter Sisters and that is definitely a series that I would love to read. It really is shocking, I mean 10 year olds are still babies. I don’t even see how they can give consent on something like that. Glad that times have changed(legally) in that regard. Thanks for putting the books on my radar.

      Its crazy. I can’t even imagine how we use to survive without portable phones. How did we use to arrange meetups and actually coordinate them lol. I remember making calls at the booth since we didn’t have a landline and waiting there guarding the phone if I was expecting a call. I don’t miss that era 😀

      Thank you.

      1. I remember when I was at boarding school with 100 other girls between the ages of 13 and 17 there was one telephone for making external calls and only one telephone to receive calls, I think we lived in complete isolation in one sense, but I was living in a dormitory with my friends so at least we used to see each and talk face to face a lot more. My kids can’t imagine how we used to live without a portable. NO I don’t miss not being connected to the outside world either, it might get too much at times, and maybe the obsession with phones needs to correct itself, but I think it’s better for young people today, who still do want to reach out and see each other face to face.

        I won’t say any more about the age of consent except to say, you will be amazed, especially when you hear the arguments and sense the injustice. Torrid.

    1. I do too. Unfortunately, most books don’t usually have them. I appreciate that Nicholl decided to begin with the warning since this book has quite heavy themes.

  4. Great review! You are so right when it comes to the 90s time period… It’s not that far away, but it’s still strange that characters can’t use their mobile phone. It sounds like the period description is well done though. Good to hear you enjoyed it!

    1. Thanks Yvo and yes, the author did a fantastic job with the setting for the story. At some point, a detective had to make a call from a phone booth and my mind just had a difficult time processing that lol. As you say, the 90s are not that far away but the changes in time and technology makes it feel like it was a lifetime ago 🙂

      1. I totally get that! Nowadays it’s even hard to find a public phone in a lot of countries haha. Shows just how fast technology is making changes… Who knows where we are in 20 years. xD

  5. I read this a few years ago and it was definitely a heavy read. Especially in the beginning like you mentioned. His evil character was well-written but hard to read at times. I’m glad the book is getting more attention now. Still sends chills up my spine. Great review, Diana!

    1. I remember reading a couple of reviews some time back. I think I saw yours on goodreads. That is what sparked my interest in the book. This was a chilling read but quite well-written. Thanks Deanna.

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