24 April 2010

Review: DARK WINTER, William Dietrich

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 572 KB
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English
ASIN: B00381B95S
Published April 2001

Jed Lewis and Robert Norse are last minute additions to the Antarctic Support team at the Amunsden-Scott base and are among the group that will maintain the base for 8 winter months. The plane that drops Jed takes the summer team away and will be the last contact the base has with "home" for 8 months.

There are 26 beakers (scientists) and station support personnel and Jed has a lot to learn. There is suspicion about why he is there - after all there are no rocks in Antarctica - but he is there to take weather observations related to global warming. The senior beaker, a famed astrophysicist named Mickey Moss, has discovered a meteorite that may be worth millions, and when his body is discovered and the meteorite goes missing, suspicion falls on Jed, mainly because of his late arrival at the base. Before long the other murders begin.

I was getting a bit aggravated with this book by the time my Kindle reader was telling me that I had read 30%. Not much seemed to be happening and I had read a lot of scientific trivia and not much thriller/mystery. Things did get better in the second half of the book, I think as the author warmed to his task of writing fiction, and was a little less concentrated on teaching the reader about life at the Pole.

Another reviewer likened it to "ten little Indians at the South Pole" and certainly it is inevitably a variant on a locked room mystery. For the first half of the story at least there is a sub-story revealed, the thoughts or writing of the killer who has actually killed before. This mystery connection was solved about three-quarters of the way through as the identity of the killer was revealed (although I had guessed his identity by then), and then the interest centres on the resolution of the plot.

My rating 4.2

I read this as part of the 2010 Global Reading Challenge

Read more of the story on the author's site.

The author William Dietrich has based the factual parts of the novel on his own Antarctic experiences.
In 1987-88 he was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and in 1990 was part of a four-person team that won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting on the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
He has written a number of novels.

Ethan Gage Series
1. Napoleon's Pyramids (2007)
2. The Rosetta Key (2008)
3. The Dakota Cipher (2009)
4. The Barbary Pirates (2010)

Ice Reich (1998)
Getting Back (2000)
Dark Winter (2001)
Hadrian's Wall (2004)
The Scourge Of God (2005)


Anonymous said...

Kerrie - Thanks for this review. I like those "locked room" kinds of mysteries, and this is an author I'm not familliar with. I may just give it a try, even though there were things you didn't like about it. To me, Antarctica mysteries are interesting, anyway, because my father went there, and I remember his stories about his trip.

Kerrie said...

There are things this novel does very well Margot. I just thought it took Dietrich an awfully long time to hit his straps

Anonymous said...

I need to get this book as well and am glad I can purchase it for my Kindle. I'm not sure why I have such a fondness for books set in Antarctica, but I do. Sarah Andrews has a non-series book called IN COLD PURSUIT that not everyone loved, but I enjoyed it very much. Again, the setting. Thanks for sharing this, Kerrie!

Dorte H said...

I am still waiting for some other participants to point me towards some really good Antarctic novels. I think Bernadette´s are more promising though.

Kerrie said...

This book does have some good points Dorte - probably will appeal to thriller readers. As I said I thought he got better as the book developed


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