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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 7 January 2013
The follow-up to Melanie McGrath's High Arctic-set White Heat is even more assured, building on and adding considerably more depth to the brilliantly conceived Edie Kiglatuk, a recovering alcoholic Inuit, sometime-teacher, sometime-unofficial (and frankly unwitting) crime investigator.

TBITS is set in Alaska, far to the south of Edie's home on Ellesmere Island. A character in White Heat pointed out that Alaska is closer latitudinally to California than it is to Edie's home, and from the get-go there's a sense that Edie, who is here to support her ex on the 1000+ mile Iditarod dog sled race, is deeply out of place, and, indeed, longing to be home.

But that's not to be, for within pages of the book's opening Edie is embroiled in a mystery which becomes only deeper the more she probes it, and which will eventually place her and her closest friends in the greatest personal danger. Russian Orthodox dissenter (and just possibly Satanist) cults, people traffickers, corrupt local politicians, Evangelical Christian cops, child prostitutes... all make their appearance in a tale which gets darker at each turn of the page.

Two things in particular contribute to the book's success. Firstly, McGrath's research is impeccable, and very, very deep; the result is a sense of place, and of society, that's utterly believable. From the description of the conditions faced by the Iditarod's mushers to the deeply disturbing depiction of Alaskan politics and business practice, everything feels utterly authentic.

And secondly, not only has McGrath created a great character in Edie, Edie's friendship with Ellesmere Island's policeman, Derek Palliser is the precisely the kind of sexually-charged (although Platonic) yet feisty-bordering-on-comabtive relationship which lies at the heart of some of the very best crime fiction.

I personally can't wait for the third volume in the series.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
In many ways, this story reminds me of 'The Tenderness of Wolves' by Stef Penney. Both tales are set in the far north of the American continent, both take great pains to describe the landscape and geographical features of the snowy wilderness, both feature red herrings that aren't vital to the plot (but lead the reader to a false conclusion, thus guaranteeing surprise when the truth is revealed), both - while meticulous in their creation of vivid setting - fail to build three-dimensional protagonists/antagonists whose personalities develop as the story progresses, both have a Native American interest, both make frequent and in-depth references to snow, both fall short of providing a rounded, satisfying reading experience.

'The Boy in the Snow' has some redeeming qualities, mainly the power of its setting, which is masterfully described. One of the book's irritating characteristics is a reliance on adverbs (the result of either choosing weak verbs or falling into childish writing habits). The characters aren't as fleshed out as they might have been. They fail to develop significantly in response to obstacles faced and pain suffered. Dialogue, also, doesn't quite ring true.

In a nutshell, the book's descriptions of non-human phenomena are beautiful, while its understanding of the human experience is lacking.

Too much setting, not enough plotting.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the second book featuring Edie - a native inhabitant of Northern Canada. In this novel she goes south to Alaska where her ex-husband is involved in a dog-sled race (the Iditarod).She is back-up crew but becomes involved in local big business and politics when she finds the frozen body of a small baby.

The plot of this book is OK. It is nothing special and on occasion becomes tricky to follow because it becomes a bit fragmented. What boosts the story to its four star rating is the descriptive writing of the landscape and the Alaskan environment. This is really powerful writing and I was gripped by the evocation of the landscape combined with the understanding of how that affects the lifestyle and way of thinking of the local people. The author cleverly contrasts Edie's point of view with that of the local politicians and other non-Natives in order to emphasise how differently they think. He then introduces the religious cults which have grown up from the Russian immigrants. We could have done with more understanding of exactly what the religious people believe but their way of life is introduced as another alternative. The author is not naive and the Native American lifestyle is not portrayed as completely idyllic but it is described and seen in the context of the environment and harsh living conditions.

This is a fascinating novel despite the plot being a bit weak. Had the plot been as strong as the descriptive writing then this would have been an outstanding read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 March 2014
This is a clever story with deep resonating comment on modern life. The main characters of the first book, White Heat are transposed into Alaska during the annual dogsled endurance race.
The star again is native hunter and Arctic guide Edie Kiglatuk clearly out of her comfort zone. This aspect is presented factually and not overplayed; her ability to adjust and adapt is championed as she takes on a new case. Finding a dead child in the forest she sets out to uncover the truth and find justice for the little one.
Along the way she has to overcome prejudice and tackle corruption within the local police department, unscrupulous business and political ambition, religious extremism and cult beliefs with sex slave people trafficking.
This makes for a complex and engrossing novel, the story is expertly woven into a cracking read with a strong sense of danger and clever plot twists.
The person of Edie is well drawn and realistic. Not only surviving within a modern age but adjusting and confronting where others comply, always able to draw on her own native instincts and the spirit world.
The book is a stand alone thriller that throws background light onto our imperfect modern world; it does this in an entertaining way without signposting issues or preaching a greener way.
The author is clearly at home in this world and allows the reader to gain insight like a good guide. Her passion is reflected in excellent prose and rich language, humour prevails throughout but the real star of the book is the Arctic north.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
"The Boy in the Snow" is Melanie McGrath's second Edie Kiglatuk novel. Chronologically, it is set some six months or so after the first and while it is not at all necessary to have read the earlier book, this one makes a little more sense in places if you have. In this story, Edie finds herself from her home of Ellesmere Island in the Canadian high Arctic, as she and her friend, police officer Derek Palliser, provide logistical backup and support to her ex, Sammy Inukpuk, who is competing in one of the toughest sporting events on the planet -- the long-distance Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska. Edie being Edie, of course, it isn't long before she is embroiled in an emotionally charged mystery, involving two dead babies, which nobody else seems much interested in investigating, and which is intimately entangled with sordid sex- and baby-trafficking, as well as political intrigue. And again, as usual, Edie's natural nosiness and sense of justice is soon putting not only her own life but that of her friends in grave danger.

As a follow-up to the earlier "White Heat", the book is something of a disappointment, for me, at least, failing to recapture the magic of the earlier volume. It is also somewhat inconsistent with the first book -- Edie's ready adaptation to "qalunaat" living in Alaska, for instance, sitting at odds with her discomfort experienced in Greenland in the earlier story. As a book in its own right, "The Boy on the Snow" is a fairly typical and almost formulaic thriller, albeit one set in an unusual environment. What lifts the book out of the ordinary is the author's handling of the Edie's character -- which has grown even more for this story -- and the naturally hostile environment of snow and ice of Alaska, although here again, this is somewhat disappointing in that it never comes alive as much as the Arctic does in the first book and only really features in the last few chapters of the book.

As with the earlier volume humour and pathos drive the story through its slower moments, making the book an easy and a quick read. Shorter chapter lengths than in the first book also help to mount the tension more, although the somewhat predictably story-line spoils that a little bit. Fans of Edie Kiglatuk anxious for more after the first volume will probably be delighted with the book, as she shines here even more than before and will no doubt gobble this book down quickly before heading out to sign up for their copy of the next in the series, "The Bone Seeker".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is definitely not a romping fast-paced thriller, although it has its moments of credible tension. It's a carefully considered and intricate amateur investigation set against the backdrop of an international dog-sledge race and Alaskan politics.

The half-Inuit heroine, Edie, is a visitor to frozen Alaska who discovers the body of a baby in the snow. Already somewhat bewildered by the unfamiliar environment - she'd rather be back in the comfortable isolation of her familiar wilderness - Edie has to overcome practical, personal and cultural challenges to uncover the true culprit behind what turns out to be a conspiracy of inhumane behaviour.
If you enjoyed The Killing, especially the first series, then you'll like the way in which local politics are interwoven into the detective story. Edie's search for the truth reveals corrupt property deals, an old world religious sect, drugs and prostitution and worse than that.
At time the heavy blanket of snow seems to muffle everything and all the characters seem to be emotionally isolated; talking plenty but barely communicating. Although I enjoyed the book overall, it didn't grip me or engage my attention entirely: there were moments when I struggled to feel any connection with the heroine or the victims. I was also somewhat confused by the action sequence at the beginning: it's from a later point in the plot and it feels as if it was artificially inserted at the start to attract our attention. It disrupts the natural flow of the narrative... as if the publishers felt we needed a thrill to hook us into the story. I can see why because there are moments when the pace begins to plod somewhat, and several of the minor characters seem to be little more than convenient sketches. The interactions between the characters can be clunky and two-dimensional; some of the plot devices (an aeroplane at the drop of a hat: learning to drive a truck in a day) seem just a little too convenient.

Some moments are cleverly crafted, however; like Edie's regular breakfast order at a local diner (meat, more meat, and hold all the carbs), and her solitary explorations in the frozen landscape. Perhaps I might have enjoyed `The Boy in the Snow' more if I'd read Edie's previous investigation; the two stories are obviously linked so you should probably start with White Heat. I must admit that I'm not inspired enough to go back and try it: although 'The Boy in the Snow' was enjoyable enough it didn't create a compellingly tense atmosphere or any characters who I'd like to share more time with. So it's likely to go on the shelf but not be re-read.
7/10
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the second book in the series and follows on from White Heat in which Edie Kiglatuk is first introduced.

Edie, an Arctic guide, is back in this chilling thriller which begins with her finding a child's frozen body in the snow. The police believe that a Russian sect is to blame for the child's death, but Edie doesn't agree and forges her own investigation which becomes increasinly dangerous for her.

This is an excellent thriller with a unique setting. The author - M.J. McGrath - has the rare gift of being able to write in a way that draws you into the story and setting and seems to change the air around you as a result.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a perfectly decent thriller. I quite enjoyed it but in the end I found it followed a rather familiar formula despite the arctic setting which I had hoped would make it distinctive and more interesting.

The plot follows a pretty familiar course. Edie, an Inuit woman from the Canadian High Arctic travels to Alaska to support her ex-husband in the Iditarod race. Before she gets to the start she makes a gruesome discovery which local police fail to investigate to her satisfaction, and so...well, you can probably guess. The plot involves political corruption and ambition, untrustworthy policemen, dark secrets of sexual misdemeanour and child-abuse, our heroine coming under mortal threat and so on. It really did all feel very formulaic and wasn't really redeemed by the setting which I didn't find all that well evoked. The one exception to this was a terrific few pages toward the end where Edie and two companions are stranded and need to try to survive out on the sea-ice. Suddenly both Edie and the environment sprang to life for me and I thought it was a remarkably good passage.

I have given this four stars because it had this flash of brilliance and the rest was perfectly well-written. It's an easy read but rather disappointingly unoriginal, and I can only give it a somewhat qualified recommendation.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 October 2012
Not to be deterred by my slight disappointment at McGrath's debut `White Heat' I approached this, the next in the series, with an open mind and found it a much more satisfying read overall. Familiar characters from the first book return in an altogether different setting with the action of the main plot being relocated to Alaska. Edie Kiglatuk (a native of the Inuit community on Ellesmere Island in the High Arctic) accompanies her ex-husband Sammy and police chief Derek Palliser to Alaska where Sammy is competing in the gruelling `Iditarod'- a world famous dog-sled race covering 1100 miles of the harshest terrain. However, Edie's role in Sammy's quest for glory is curtailed by her discovering the body of a baby in a snowy woodland and draws her into the path of not only an ostracised religious sect but a sinister sex trade involving young immigrant women. Running alongside this plot there is a well-constructed political story line revolving around the perfectly awful husband and wife team of Chuck and Marsha Hillingberg, as Chuck vies with an existing incumbent for the post of Governor of Alaska; a pair of the most power-hungry and scheming individuals it would ever be your misfortune to meet who inevitably cross paths with the indomitable Edie as she finds herself deeper in peril...
As with `White Heat' McGrath's research is to be applauded from the level of detail she applies to both the Iditarod race and the charting of the political processes in place for the electing of a State Governor. The depiction of the `Old Believers', a religious group who broke away from the Russian Orthodox church having refused to accept the liturgical reforms imposed upon them by the main church, was also an interesting thread and this, along with the Iditarod, drove me to Google to find out more. It's always pleasing to read a book that introduces you to a previously unknown world as long as it supports the main plot/mystery and McGrath largely achieves this.
One of my problems with the previous book was the flimsy characterisation- with the exception of the compelling Edie- and I'm glad to say that I felt infinitely more engaged with the characters in `The Boy In The Snow' than I had previously. Police chief Derek Palliser seems to have shut up about his lemmings which is a bonus and I felt that by leaving his furry friends behind, McGrath's characterisation of him improved greatly, and I was much more interested in him and his maturing relationship with Edie than before. There was a great deal more attention to detail generally in the characterisation throughout, from the main protagonists through to the `bit-part' players, and I felt they had all been really fleshed-out however big their role in the plot and were altogether more believable. I'm glad that McGrath has achieved this balance as her factual detail is so compelling that the strength of this had really highlighted the weaker characterisation before.
All in all I found this an engaging read, bringing to my attention topics I had no previous knowledge of, but also providing a compelling and well- realised crime plot that held my attention throughout.
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Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )Verified Purchase
The Boy in the Snow is the second book in a series featuring Edie Kiglatuk, an Arctic guide. This time she has come south to Alaska to provide backup to a competitor in the Iditarod dog sled race, but her plans are interrupted when she stumbles across a dead child. In the course of her investigation she comes across corrupt local politicians and the Old Believers, a fundamentalist sect who broke away from the Russian Orthodox Church many years ago, and has to find a way through various suspicion and prejudice.

I love stories about private investigators, and although Edie isn't actually a PI or officially employed as an investigator, she fits well into this part of the genre. She is a bit spiky, brave to the point of being foolhardy, fiercely independent, and committed to finding out the truth however inconvenient that might be. She also comes with a lot of personal history and has had alcohol problems in the past. None of this is particularly unusual in the genre. I really enjoyed reading about her in this book though.

I was intrigued by the author's efforts to imagine how Alaska would look to someone from an even colder, wilder, more northern place, somewhere which hasn't been absorbed as another of the United States - although Edie's Arctic home is officially part of Canada, it really is another place and culture.

White Heat (The Edie Kiglatuk Arctic Crime Series), the first book in the series, didn't quite live up to my expectations, but I thought this book was much better, and I am looking forward to The Bone Seeker (The Edie Kiglatuk Arctic Crime Series).
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