Top positive review
15 people found this helpful
on 8 February 2013
A compelling, gritty debut mystery set in the frozen tundra of the arctic, on Canada's far northern Ellesmere Island, close to Greenland. I found the descriptions of the rapidly changing, harsh, beautiful location and of the way of life of the rugged, troubled residents to be fascinating; the murder mystery was pretty good. 3.5 stars overall. I've read that the British author, who has previously written nonfiction, is at work on a second mystery featuring the appealing main character, Edie. I anticipate it will be even better.
Half-Inuit Arctic guide and hunter Edie Kiglatuk is leading a routine hunting trek with two qalunaat, or whites, when one is shot while she is off making tea for the group. Edie's beloved stepson Joe, in training to be a nurse, comes by snowmobile to help since a blizzard grounds the available planes, but the man dies anyway. Despite their doubts, Edie and Joe acquiesce to the Tribal Council's decision that the death was self-inflicted, a hunting accident. The Council doesn't want one of the only profitable sources of income on the Island, the guiding, to be impacted by suspicious death investigations.
Edie decides not to rock the boat, since gaining the patriarchal Council's approval to be a guide was difficult enough despite her enormous skill as a hunter and guide, and she needs the part time guiding jobs to pay for Joe's schooling. But Joe is more doubtful, and when another guiding trip goes wrong, more deaths prompts the fierce and independent Edie to start investigating with the reluctant help of Inuit police sergeant Derek Palliser, who would much rather be researching lemmings. The numerous threads of the plot feature culture clashes between Inuit and whites, past injustices, energy corporations' interests in exploring the Arctic, drug use and the high suicide rate on the Island, Greenland, NASA's presence on the island, and more. Edie and Derek are very believable and sympathetic characters, despite their various personal failings, and their love of their arctic landscape is contagious.