Out of the ice by Ann Turner
Simon and Schuster, 2016. ISBN 9781925030891
(Age: 16+) Recommended. Thriller. Antarctica. Friendship. Women. Viruses. Laura Alvarado is an environmental scientist based in the Antarctic. When she is sent to a remote area to report whether Fredelighavn, an abandoned whaling station, could be used for tourism or stay as a pristine environment for the wildlife, she finds disturbing evidence that it is being misused and the wildlife behaving strangely. When the normally placid penguins and seals attack, Laura knows that someone has been interfering with their way of life. On a dive at the station with her friend Sara, she glimpses a young boy screaming for help through the ice and as more and more strange things begin to happen she finds herself in danger. What is going on at the Research Station? Why is she seeing eerie things and being shunned by the scientists at the base?
This is a tense and engrossing thriller and the setting of the ice of Antarctica sets it apart immediately. The reader is swept into the life of people living in its cold environment, and the initial chapters describing the animal life, the penguins, seals and whales give a fabulous background to the thrilling story as the suspense unfolds. Fredelighavn, an abandoned whaling station is depicted in great detail. The Norwegian buildings, portraits of the people who lived there, the Scandavian furniture and even an abandoned cinema, are all brought to life against the background of the terrible slaughter of the whales that were the mainstay of the settlement.
Although Laura could perhaps be 'toasty', a condition of seeing things after spending too much time in Antactica, she is a strong and determined woman, who rationally analyses what has happened and is convinced that she has seen a young boy screaming for help. With the assistance of her friend Sara and boss Georgia, a detective stationed nearby, they investigate Fredelighavn. Continuing the search, Laura goes to Nantucket, pursuing the elusive scientist Snow and uncovers more of the mysteries surrounding the abandoned whaling station.
There are many questions for the reader to pursue, including the theme of strong women in a predominantly male environment, the strength of friendship and the preservation of wildlife. Add these to exciting action, suspense, some very unexpected twists and turns and moments of heartbreak and the reader is in for a real treat. I will certainly be picking up any more books by Ann Turner.