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Environmental thriller set in the Arctic

26th April 2017

The Ice by Laline Paull – environmental thriller set in the Arctic.

The Ice is set ‘a few years in the future‘. Global warming has accelerated, and London is covered in Saharan sand. Summer ice has disappeared from the Arctic and the North Polar sea route between Asia and Europe / Africa is open. Sean Cawson, a non too scrupulous business man has joined forces with his long time friend and noted environmentalist, Tom Harding, to buy an old whaling station on Midgard Glacier near Svalbard, close to the Norwegian and Russian coast. The idea is to make it into a retreat for the rich and famous of the world – a place where deals can be done in a pristine environment far away from prying eyes.

Environmental thriller set in the Arctic

Polar bear sighting cruise ships are not allowed into the fjord where Midgard Lodge is situated. But, three years after Tom Harding was lost in a tragic accident in an ice cave on the glacier, one ventures in. The ice ‘calves’ (a mammoth collapse into the sea caused by global warming) and Tom’s body emerges from where it has lain since the accident. The cruise ship’s passengers record the incident on camera. An inquest in Cambridge (Tom’s home city…) follows. Sean, who was in the cave with Tom when the accident occurred, is a key witness. The truth is eked out as the inquest progresses – Sean and Tom had argued before they had entered the cave. What had actually happened in the cave? Yes, it had collapsed as the ice cracked – but had Sean done all he could to save Tom? The inquest explores and questions. Emotions run raw. The book moves to a startling denouement.

Blog panelAs is not always the case in thrillers, the characters ring true. They are not cardboard cut outs. Sean is a troubled human being whose mind often goes back to what happened in the cave where he lost his friend. He blanks out on occasion and is diagnosed as suffering from PTSD. He lives with his business and personal partner, Martine, who is deeply involved in what happens at Midgard. His ex wife, Gail, and his daughter, Rosie, are carefully parked away in the country. Then there are Tom’s ex, Ruth, and his family who have a love/hate relationship with Sean – love because he was Tom’s best friend and hate because they blame him for Tom’s death. Plus the slightly larger than life business partners in Midgard Lodge. Joe Kingsmith, a secretive and very successful business man who has been Sean’s mentor over the years, and Radiance, a clever, witty and tad scary Hong Kong Chinese. They all gel together in a extremely well written book. The story, by its very nature, is not exactly believable – but that really doesn’t matter. The reader is drawn in and the plot bowls along.

I chose to read The Ice because I has so much enjoyed Laline’s first book, The Bees (for my Lead Review please click here). They are on the surface very different reads, perhaps hard to imagine that the author is the same person. But there is a connection… Both – at different ends of the spectrum – are about nature and the environment in which we live. And there is no sentimentality. In The Bees, Laline describes the sometimes cruel life of the hive. In The Ice, she describes the equally cruel and challenging life of the Arctic. Polar bears are driven from their natural homes into an ever declining habitat. The Inuit are moved on by the decline of the ice, and the invasion of mining and mineral exploration. Before each chapter in The Ice, there is a half page (or so) extract from the logs of various Arctic explorers written in the first half of the 20th century. It was a very dangerous and frightening place – where man and ice beast co-existed (but not always happily). It is different at the time of the book, but perhaps not better.

The book costs £12.99 in the UK, and it is probably worth that for the cover alone! It portrays the entrance to the ice cave… The cover itself is various tones of ice blue, with a cut out shape revealing the silver engraving on the black binding of the book itself. The reader is sucked into the entrance to the cave. Jo Walker designed the cover, and the ice cave engraving is by Chris Wormell. It is a pleasure to give credit where it is due.


© Adrian Peacock

But, above all, an acknowledgement to Laline Paull. The Ice is an extremely good book. I finished it a couple of days ago, and it keeps returning in my mind.

We also have a wonderful chat to the book cover designer Jo Walker here where we showcase superb photos by Adrian Peacock

Tony for the TripFiction team

Follow Laline on Twitter and via her website, and of course buy your copy of The Ice here!

For more books to transport you to the inhospitable but achingly beautiful terrain – the Arctic – just click here for access to our database.

Catch up with Team TripFiction on Social Media: Twitter (@TripFiction), Facebook (@TripFiction.Literarywanderlust), YouTube (TripFiction #Literarywanderlust), Instagram (@TripFiction) and Pinterest (@TripFiction)

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  1. User: Laline Paull

    Posted on: 26/04/2017 at 9:29 am

    Dear TripFiction – you are book champions, thank you so much for what you do!


    1 Comment

    • User: tripfiction

      Posted on: 26/04/2017 at 9:32 am

      And thank you for writing such brilliant books!

      TF’s Tony