Tuesday, April 19, 2011

White Heat



M J McGrath
White Heat

Mantle, 2011

The plot of this novel takes place on the Craig Island, near Canada, near Greenland. Edie Kiglatuk, an experienced hunter and guide, accompanies on hunting two men who wished to be in the extreme conditions of the polar north. But the hunt goes awry: one man is shot dead. His team-mate because of poor visibility hasn’t seen who shot Wagner. When the wounded man is brought to the hospital of Autisaq, the city where Edie lives Wagner is dead. Andy Taylor in the situation reveals himself not with the best side: nervous, panicked. In order not to raise the hype and not to call police with big land the mayor of the town decides to stay on a version of the accident: Wagner shot himself by a ricochet bullet.

Edie between two jobs is applied to alcohol and watches silent comedies. She and a local policeman Derek Palliser, who dreams of a major crime which he would have been able to uncover to win the heart of his wife, suspect that something is wrong associated with the death of Wagner, but both decide not to go against the Council of Elders.

If you take a look at the style of this novel, you never say it's debut in fiction. McGrath has a smooth style, not the Arctic cold, quite the opposite - full of energy and internal heat. Because of the stylistic elegance, this book certainly falls under the definition of "literary thriller". The main dignity if it, however, not even the style, bur well chosen surroundings. It’s incredibly interesting to see how people live near the polar circle. Because of constant cold, not only the daily life of a person changes, but his train of thought. Because of the remoteness from the mainland, in this case from the civilization as such, social structure of the Inuit is different from way of life of Americans and Canadians. With one hand, people living in the north, are not savages, but in general, normal people enjoying the benefits of civilization, not barbarians, not the pagans in their expression of extreme. On the other hand, the Inuit live only in their terms, do not like strangers, still retain the ancient traditions. All this allows the author to create an atmosphere for the reader unfamiliar, placing in the center of the plot a criminal story, not forgetting to create the complex background.

Mysery component, respectively, is largely determined by the environment: guide and hunter Edie, a lonely, but strong-willed woman who must not only unravel the crime, but also in parallel deals with natural conditions. The novel keeps in suspense until the last page, though detective plotline is the weakest and the most unconvincing. In the story there are vile Russian oil businessmen, fragments of meteorites, intelligent life from Mars, the fight for gas and almost a world conspiracy theory. All this looks like an awkward conglomeration of ideas, little related to reality. If you start to disassemble these waves simply from the standpoint of logic, the majority of composite lines will no make sense. The part of the mystery puzzle that relate to daily life of Inuit and quite a mundane motives, look much more authentic, perfectly fitting into the overall picture.

Though the author has not quite got to weave a perfect mystery in the picture of the created world, «White Heat» still is a very beautiful novel. And McGrath has already written a sequel.

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