Nov 4 2013 3:30pm

Fresh Meat: Grimm-The Icy Touch by John Shirley

Grimm- The Icy Touch by John Shirley is the first book in the paranormal mystery media tie-in series based on the show, Grimm (available November 5, 2013).

I can’t tell you how geeked I was when I first heard about Grimm. I like my urban fantasy with a side serving of mystery and since the cancellation of The Dresden Files, there hadn’t been anything on television that filled that niche. When a Twitter link offered a code for a “special preview” of the series pilot, I logged on eagerly. When the show opened with a girl in a red hoodie being abducted from a jogging path in an absolutely gorgeous Portland park, I was so there.

I continued to be engaged as a bravely bald Kate Burton showed up towing a trailer of ancient weapons and books filled with arcane lore. And when the hour ended with a twist I did not see coming—and I’m pretty good at seeing twist endings coming—I was ready to become a fan.

In the subsequent weeks though, I was often disappointed. For one thing, although the show’s writers hinted at larger backstories for the characters, particularly the enigmatic Captain Renard, most of the episodes were “Wesen of the Week” and that got boring.

Also, and no disrespect intended toward actor Silas Weir Mitchell, who’s great—the writers fell in love with their laid-back blutbad character and turned him into “Fonzie,” to the detriment of all the other characters. (Seriously, when are they going to give Reggie Lee something more to do than be comic relief? I once saw him playing a silky, sinister gangster in a Jason Statham movie and he rocked the part.)

I kept watching the show, though, because I liked the mythology and I liked the characters and I just like urban fantasy with a side of mystery. Call it a guilty pleasure.

The most satisfying episode in the first season, for me, was “Three Coins in a Fuchsbau,” written by series creators David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf. The coins of the title are powerful artifacts known as “the Coins of Zakynthos” and they’re the Grimm equivalent of “the precious” in Lord of the Rings and the Spear of Destiny rolled into one. Anyone who touches the coins is corrupted by their power and ultimately destroyed.

Which brings us to this book by John Shirley, a novel based on the characters and concepts of the television show. Shirley, a Bram Stoker Award winner, writes dark fiction in multiple genres and he “gets” the world of Grimm and reflects it back like a dark mirror.

The show’s fans will be delighted by the introduction of the coins in the prologue but the story will also engage readers who have never watched a single episode with its fantasy-history take on Napoleon’s fall from glory.

In many ways he felt it would be doing his friend a service, in the long run, if he could get the coins away from him. Once he’d lost the Coins of Zakynthos, Napoleon might lose heart. He had become dependent on them. Without them, he would likely lose the battle—a defeat that Kessler’s employer desired—and perhaps Napoleon would be saved from the madness and physical deterioration contact with the coins would inevitably bring.

When the story switches to modern-day Portland (where Shirley grew up), the novelist brings on the weird as a burned body clutching a donut box (from a place that’s clearly a shout-out to Portland’s famous “Voodoo Donuts”) leads to a much, much bigger criminal conspiracy.

“Ice.” Renard nodded to himself. “Here.” He pushed a folder on his desk toward them. “This is for your eyes only. It’s all I’ve got on The Icy Touch. Ever hear about them?” “Nope.” Nick looked at Hank, who shook his head. “Not likely you’d have heard much,” Renard said. “They were out of business, for a long time. And when they were active they were smalltime, compared to the mafia. Kind of an offshoot of the Hasslich, going way back.” “The Hasslich...” The name struck a chill through Nick. It was an organization that existed only to kill Grimms. “Great.” “Grimms aren’t an Icy Touch priority, especially now,” Renard said. “They’ve got some other agenda. I keep reading between the lines on FBI reports, and Interpol—I suspect it’s gone Wesen.”

Shirley nails the characters from the show, and in one beautifully written sequence, goes inside Monroe’s mind so readers can experience Portland through the heightened senses of the blutbad:

A misty dusk. Monroe stood on his front porch and sniffed the October air. Across the street was Forest Park, 5,100 acres of wildness on the west edge of Portland, where shadows were gathering like flocks of dark birds. The sun was going down beyond the park; the line of firs and deciduous trees broke up the reddening sunlight into a trembling coinage of scarlet-gold. Forest Park, his second home.

Monroe inhaled deeply, taking in the woodland’s damp exhalation, parsing the scents with a clarity an ordinary human could only dream of.


Overtop were the distinct fragrances of evergreens, western red cedar, Douglas fir, western yew, grand fir, all mingled with the decay-rich scents of fallen leaves from black cottonwood, bigleaf maple, red alder; piquant notes of wild blackberries and salmonberries struck through like thorns on a vine. He scented dozens of varieties of mushrooms and tree fungus; he caught the smells of Oregon Grape, trillium, Morning Glory and... Hooker’s Fairy Bells. That one made him smile.

The “guest stars” in the book are also dimensional, particularly a small-time thug named Santiago who’s recruited from an outfit called Sombre Corazon (shadow Heart) to serve the Icy Touch. It’s a matter of self-preservation for Santiago. “He did not want to be eaten. Especially not eaten alive.”

The Icy Touch offers readers the best of both worlds; for fans of the show, it provides a deeper and richer look at the characters and the legends, for readers new to the world, it’s a great introduction and a stand-alone story that has its own pleasures. It does not disappoint.

See more new releases at our Fresh Meat feature page.


To learn more, or order a copy, visit:

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This Sweepstakes has ended.

To enter for a chance to win a copy of  Grimm: The Icy Touch by John Shirley make sure you're a registered member of the site and simply leave a comment below.

TIP: Since only comments from registered users will be tabulated, if your user name appears in red above your comment—STOP—go log in, then try commenting again. If your user name appears in black above your comment, You’re In!

The Icy Touch Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry  at beginning at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) November 4, 2013. Sweepstakes ends at 2:29 p.m. ET November 11, 2013. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law.  Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.


Katherine Tomlinson lives in Los Angeles in an apartment where her TBR pile has its own bookcase. She writes dark fiction but has a soft spot for cozy mysteries, heroic fantasy, and horror novels where only bad people get killed. She is the author of the upcoming novel Misbegotten.

Read all posts by Katherine Tomlinson for Criminal Element.

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Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
James Gysin
1. jimgysin
Are you aware that there is also an ongoing GRIMM comic book from Dynamite? It's not too shabby, actually. Ironically, the first volume there is also about the Coins of Zakynthos.
3. dreak70
Big fan of the show--can't wait to read this!
5. Shannon Baas
Looks like a good book.
Pam Howell
8. phowell13
Love the show. The book hopefully will be as good as the show.
Kay Gornick
Hmmmmm. Interesting to try same subject in two medias.
12. DemonShane
Sounds like a great book. Love fan fiction that embellishes and expands a plotline from a show. Great idea, Mr. Shirley!
Pamela Romero
13. pammlla
I love this show! The book sounds absolutely wonderful.
John Peterson
14. Hobit
The coins remind me of winning lottery tickets, they corupt all.
Donna Bivens
15. dbivens
OH, how I love Grimm! This would be a wonderful gift.
Karen Terry
17. bblol65
I don't watch Grimm on tv, but I would like to read it.
vickie dailey
18. kidcurry
haven't been able to catch the show - love the fairly tales - can this book stand alone even though it is a tie-in? If not I'm sure I can watch it on Demand - thanks for the great chances to win.
Mike zinn
20. Zinn
WOW! Grimm and John Shirley. Can't beat that combination. I'm a big fan of both.
Deb Mosora
22. debmsra
Love the show. Would love to read the book.
23. Bhilden
Whole family loves the show, can't wait to read the book.
Richard Derus
24. expendablemudge
I think the show's got something and hope the books will too.
Deborah Dumm
25. deb730
I am most definitely going to read this book. I love the show!!!!
Kristen Heyl
26. H0CkEyGrrL
I didn't realize there was a book series that went with the tv show. I love the show so I am sure I would love the books.
Andra Dalton
27. andra77
Kids and I have been glued to tv since Grimm first aired and never miss an episode!! Now I find out there's a book that goes along with series!! Can't wait to read!! Thanks for contest & good luck to all!!:0)
Jennifer Beers
28. jlb226
I love this TV series!! I hope the book is as great as the show!!! I can't wait to read the book!!!!
Laurence Coven
29. Holmes
John Shirley has been around for a long time--this looks like a branching out for him
Lynn Jarrett
30. OkieReader
Grimm is so creepy, but I like it. I look forward to reading the book!!
Johanna Bouchard
35. JMB89
Sounds awesome, would love to win this! Thanks for the giveaway ;)
38. warrior1
Great contest - I hope I win!
Allison Moyer
42. The Loopy Librarian
I've never seen the show, but it sounds fantastic! I'm going to have to check it out, and I'd love to read this book. Thanks for the giveaway!
Mary Ann Brady
43. mirahana
Love the show and I'm sure I'll love the book. Thx.
Karl Stenger
44. Stenger
I am a fan of the show and can't wait to read the book
Joanne Mielczarski
45. jtmswim
I love this show so I can't wait to read this book.
Charles Fraker
46. CharlieF
The show is okay but a book by John Shirley has to be good. Sign me up!
Tracy Lech
47. tracy.lech
I love how the fairy tales get an update. Most are just people trying to get by. I would love to read the book.
Maryann Cook
48. Mir
I'm pretty sure I haven't missed an episode since this show began. Really like it and would love to read the book.
paul sproul
49. sproulzy
Great to see fantasy making TV comeback . I hope books live up to the show.
susan beamon
51. susanbeamon
I've watched odd episodes of this show and it's okay. It conflicts with another series I like better, but I do watch when I can. Would rather read the book.
53. Donna M H.
Very cool that they are in print now!
Susan Mahaffey
54. Smbirds
I must say that I am so happy to hear about this book! I would love to read it! I love the tv show. I have found that the book is always better than the show!!!
Jeanette Barney
55. eyeluvbooks59
My husband and I really like the show, and I am anxious to read the book!
Pat Murphy
56. murphyp2011
I love this program. It is such a change from all the stupid reality shows. -- I watch for escape from the daily grind. Would love to read this book.
Jo Beth Dempsey
58. demps66
Now I loved Kate Burton's character on Grimm and I really wish they hadn't killed off Adalind's mother. I thought she had great potential as a long term character.
Florry M. D.
60. florryalyna
Would love to read it & discover the mysteries.
Timothy Anderson
62. lycoan
Would love to win this for my wife, she's a big fan of the show.
Bruce Hamilton
63. deerwalker
Love the show but the book sounds better.

Dan Carr
65. punky
I worked as an Extra on this show for 5 episodes before ever seeing any of it. Would love to read this.
66. Donna B
I love the series, I think I would have to love the book.
Julie McDonough
67. onejewel
I was hooked on Grimm from the first episode. I would love to read this book.
Kimberly Mayberry
68. MysticHuntress
My daughters and I LOVE the GRIMM TV show! We are all avid readers and this would be a cherished book at our house! I would love to win it!
Shona Leonard
69. Shona
Like the show and love any and all books.
Erin Hartshorn
70. ErinMH
I haven't seen the show yet, but I have to say these coins remind me of the ones Jim Butcher used (the denarii) in the Dresden Files. I'd love the chance to read more about them.
Diane Stedner
72. caseykelp
Sounds like an awesome read. I would love the chance to add this to my TBR pile. Thank you.
Ronald Roseborough
73. Ronrose1
I love the show. Hope the book is as good.
Denise Bacher
76. DeniseBacher
I wonder what my 14yo daughter would think of this book. She loves this show, so I am thinking she would really like it.

And, of course, I know I would read it. I am an avid reader of EVERY genre. And, with my Kindle broken, I need to read actual books again.
78. Neroon
Born and raised in Portland OR. Love the show want the book.
79. ronframpton
a scarey book and a dark night nothing better !
80. Dantzr
Finally!!! Tha book has arrived!!!
Merikay Noah
82. PopcornReads
Yay! A paranormal mystery series tied to the Grimm TV series?! Pardon me while I get a napkin to wipe away the drool. I can hardly wait!
Vicki Kennedy
83. Rusty64
I'm a big fan of the show. Would love to win this!
Kelley Tackett
89. tackettfamilyky
I watch anything with Silas Weir Mitchell. I can't wait to read this book. Thanks for hosting these contests.
Richard Slobod
91. rs2
I like urban fantasy / occult detective admixtures too.

Is there a reason the book cover shown above doesn't match the one displayed on Amazon? (Is one of them an early proof that was discarded in favor of the other? Which one?)

As far there not being anything that counts as "urban fantasy with a side serving of mystery" on TV since The Dresden Files, you should note that a large percentage of Supernatural's episodes (albeit not all of them) do have that sort of investigatory aspect to them.
Irene Menge
92. Goldenmane
Sounds like something I'd really enjoy. Definitely on my TBR list.
lynette barfield
93. lynette
Love the TV show and this book sounds wonderful
Karen Martin
94. tattwo
Our family loves watching Grimm and would probably enjoy the book just as much. Thanks
Donna Bruno
95. dlbawiles
Well, of course, who wouldn't want to win a copy of this?
Heather Martin
96. CrystalMirror
The e-book was fun. With good writing talent like Shirley the book series should be as good as the show for us fans.
Heather Deluna
97. melikegarfield
Enjoy the TV show a lot, so I bet this would be fun too!
Jeffrey Malis
99. bravejam
I enjoy the show and am looking forward to reading the book. Thanks for the giveaway!
Christina Oseland
101. Teawench
Somehow I totally missed this show but it looks right up my alley
Christina Oseland
102. Teawench
Somehow I totally missed this show but it looks right up my alley
melanie Dion
103. catdancer
This is awesome. Thanks so much for the opportunity and great info.
Julie Link
104. euchre35
fantastic contest - thanks for the opportunity
Jaydee Dusenberry
105. JaydeeD
I cxould win this and be very very happy, or I could not win and release the flying monkeys....choose wisely
lynette thompson
106. LYNETTE52
I love Grimm, this is a great sweepstakes.
Linda Peters
107. linnett
Love the show and this would be great thanks
Roger Simmons
108. truckerofbc
My wife loves this show and I would love to win this book for her!
109. Heather B
love the show! would reaslly like to read the book!
Heather Burgess
110. skynkatesmom
oops forgot to log in! I love the show, would really like to read the book!
Mina Gerhart
111. Kitty14
I love how the different Wessen are introduced and the characters have evolved.
The show ROCKS, I'd like to read Grimm : The Icy Touch to learn more about the Coins of Zakynthos.

Mindy :)
Janine Sohnchen
112. AJ1011
Thank you for the chance to win this book. Love the show!!
Marisa Young
113. Risa
Love the series. Would love to win the book.
Kimberly Hilbert
117. asketcher2
I would love to read a book of the series.
David Kidle
120. airforceguy82
One of the best shows on tv right now. Didn't know there was a book, cool!
kathy pease
124. klp1965
Thank you for the great giveaway please count me in :)
alicia marie
128. bamayankee
Love the show! Can't wait to read the book : )
Nicole Davis
129. power264
Love the show. So glad its back for another season.
Wayne Lecoy
130. hotrodguy
I am entering your giveaway.
It would be great to win a copy of
Grimm-The Icy Touch by John Shirley.
Thank you for having this giveaway!!!!!!!
Karen Koziczkowski
133. zoom38
No I was not aware of the ongoing GRIMM comic book from Dynamite, but thanks to you, jimgysin, now I know, Thank You! I would love to read this book from the giveaway!. The show has its good points and its not so good points.
Buddy Garrett
136. garrettsambo
I love Grimm. I would love to read this book. It sounds very interesting.
Heather Cowley
137. choochoo
Scary and interesting show. Would love to read some of the books, too!
Arnold E Carroway II
138. buzzy1972
My favorite show. Would love to read the book series.
Francine Anchondo
139. fmd518
love the show. i am sure i would love the book.
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