I tried this one on a lark and I was pleasantly surprised. I always like a story set at the north or south pole, they're such harsh environments and great settings for mystery and mayhem. This one is no exception. It's set on Antarctica at a fictional research station where the long austral winter is about to begin, and the crew of the station are settling in for nine long months of darkness. Unfortunately a body is found on the ice just before the last plane leaves for the season, and that throws everything off.
Cass is a woman with a past and she's come to Antarctica to start over and find herself. We're reminded over and over that she is fragile, and the base psychologist seems unsure of her, but we quickly see that she is smart and capable. She's a mechanic and takes care of all the snowmobiles and various machines, and even though she's flawed she's tough too, and quickly realizes something is not right at the base. She doesn't have a lot of friends she can confide in though, and she's kind of a loner, but she does have an outlet- she keeps up a clandestine radio contact with a friendly Russian guy at a base not far away. When things get really dicey she turns to him as the only person she can talk to.
I could tell right off the bat there was some misdirection going on here, and that's the fun of it. Not only do we have Cass but we also get the occasional perspective of the station manager, the psychologist, and various other crew members. It's fun to read their thoughts and try to piece together who is lying and who isn't. As the long winter takes hold and it's eighty below zero outside, paranoia starts to set in as things happen and trust rapidly erodes among the forty- four people on the winter over.
I can see where some may get a little bored in the early going- there's not a lot of action and lots of dialogue, but for me this was a page turner. I enjoyed the dialogue because you're always looking to see who has answers and if you can spot the lies- it becomes obvious that something is going on at the base but it's unclear if the station manager and/ or senior staff are aware of it or are victims themselves. I think the atmosphere of isolation is captured quite well, and add to that lonely ice tunnels dating back to earlier settlements and some people who clearly are not psychologically suited to be there, and you have a recipe for bad stuff.
So all in all this was a winner. I loved the howling winds, the paranoia, the sense of creeping doom- the only thing I didn't care for was the explanation. While it made sense to a certain extent, it also didn't go far enough for me- I was looking forward to more weird stuff, I like a touch of the paranormal or SF with my thrillers and didn't get that here- but if this sounds good to you I'd give it a shot.
This has such an eye-catching cover. I don't think I've ever read anything set in the North or South Pole. I imagine that could make for an interesting setting with the isolation, especially for a mystery. And this seems like it would definitely get interesting once the paranoia set in! Glad this ended up being good :-)ReplyDelete
I like stories set at the poles. This is probably the second or third I've read, and it's pretty good. This one especially had that isolated feel, the sense of being all alone at the bottom of the world.Delete
Oh no, I do get bored easily and give up, even if it gets better later on, but then I am long goneReplyDelete
I do sometimes have to bow out if it's too slow moving. :)Delete
Well your review hooked me. And I liked the cover.ReplyDelete
Glad it was a good read. Sometimes books picked up on a whim end up being the best.
Good! I wasn't sure if I liked the cover, but it was a good read!Delete
I've read quite a few books set either at one of the poles or in remote cold areas where help is limited. I like that kind of environment as the isolation adds to the drama of the story. I have a few like this on tbr to read. I'm a bit concerned however, that I might be one of the people who gets bored quickly if it gets off to a slow start.ReplyDelete
I love those kind of books, but I've only read few. I didn't think it was slow, per se, but there's not a ton of action and I was concerned some might get bored. It worked for me tho.Delete
I'm curious about this one. I've seen it in a few places and I always like a book set in a good winter storm or winter landscape. Nice review.ReplyDelete
Here's to refreshing discoveries! You seem to enjoy reading about harsh environments judging by the books you've read lately (case in point, City of the Lost). Glad you enjoyed this one.ReplyDelete
Just looking at the cover makes me start feeling cold! LOL But it's true that there is something compelling about a story set in a harsh cold environment where the elements become another character to contend with. Awesome review! Makes me want to pick this up.ReplyDelete
This sounds fascinating! Glad you liked it so much!ReplyDelete
I'm another of those who gets bored easily and then gives up. I'm glad you enjoyed it though :)ReplyDelete
Sounds like something ready to put into a movie :) did anyone else die?ReplyDelete
I like the sound of this one. It sounds like the author uses the setting to full advantage.ReplyDelete
I actually don't mind the lack of paranormal or weird stuff. This sounds really creepy and I can imagine Antarctica makes for a seriously oppressive atmosphere. I wish the explanation made a little more sense but this sounds like a fun read.ReplyDelete
I actually kind of love that there is a lot of dialogue. Sometimes i prefer that than too much action. Sounds like a good read!ReplyDelete
I'm torn because although I do tend to get bored quickly, this plot does sound really good. Great review!ReplyDelete
Interesting! The harsh, unforgiving setting sounds like the perfect backdrop for a mystery. Good review!ReplyDelete
This sounds pretty good! I don't think I have read a book set in Antarctica yet- but I love the idea of it. I mean, talk about the perfect setting for a mystery- especially a psychologically driven one! It is so isolated and atmospherically perfect! I am definitely going to have to add this one to my list! Great review :)ReplyDelete
Okay, I admit I read this review purely for the book cover, that is definitely a cover which grabs your attention. I can see how such an isolated setting would make the mystery even more intriguing as it's such a small community and there really is no other way out. Sorry to hear the ending didn't quite meet all expectations but it still sounds like an intriguing read. Great review.ReplyDelete
I'm big on character driven stories and enjoy shifting POVs to get each of their thoughts. I also love harsh elements that add to the struggles, especially cold and snow. This sounds similar to a movie I watched. Sounds good to me!ReplyDelete
I love stories about female mechanics. Is that weird? Anyway, I should check this one out. :)ReplyDelete
This sounds fabulous! Love the psychology and unreliable narrators.ReplyDelete
Thanks for linking.
Not being a fan of the paranormal and sci-fi myself, but a fan of thrillers this sounds like my kind of read. Thanks for sharing :)ReplyDelete