Monday, September 3, 2012

Cool Off with White Heat

Are you getting tired of the summer heat? Do you feel like a little cool weather would be refreshing? For those of us unable to take a trip to cooler climes, maybe we can be satisfied just reading about snow, ice and blizzards...

In her debut novel White Heat, M.J. McGrath takes us deep into the Arctic tundra. Edie Kiglatuk, half Inuit and half Caucasian, lives on Ellesmere Island and works as a hunting guide. Edie is always at odds with the patriarchal establishment and things get worse when a tourist is murdered on her watch.

Throughout the novel, McGrath describes the weather, the conditions and the foul weather gear in great detail. I love now knowing that three layer snow makes the best ice houses. I love the idea of making tea from an iceberg. How about adding in a nob of seal blubber instead of a dash of honey? Here's a passage describing a character getting ready to go outside: he "pulled on his Polartec and insulated trousers, three pairs of socks, two scarves, two hats and his mukluks." Can you imagine? In this heat? It's too hot to wear socks in Tucson!

I'm trying to distract myself from the heat by focusing on the climate in the novel, but White Heat is a great first installment in a new mystery series. Edie makes for a tough heroine. Who wouldn't admire a woman who can dogsled her way across the frozen sea? There are some interesting secondary characters in there as well. For example, police sergeant Derek Palliser makes for a great reluctant lawman. He would much rather be studying his precious lemmings than solving crime.

If you like White Heat, you won't have to wait long for the next installment. The Boy in the Snow will be released this October.

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