Longlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2017.
'Ed O'Loughlin is a skilled cartographer of both the Arctic and the human heart. What a magnificent novel' Ron Rash
'A brilliant paean to the obsessions of the polar explorers . . . stupendously good' Australian
'Vastly entertaining' Sunday Times
FROM BOOKER-LONGLISTED ED O'LOUGHLIN: THE PERFECT NOVEL FOR FANS OF AMY SACKVILLE'S THE STILL POINT AND FRANCIS SPUFFORD'S I MAY BE SOME TIME.
It begins with a chance encounter at the top of the world.
Fay Morgan and Nelson Nilsson have each arrived in Inuvik, Canada - 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle - searching for answers about a family member: Nelson for his estranged older brother, Fay for her disappeared grandfather. They soon learn that these two men have an unexpected link - a hidden share in one of the greatest enduring mysteries of polar exploration.
The third novel by O'Loughlin (Not Untrue and Not Unkind) is a complex tale of historical intrigue about 19th-century polar explorers, the strange disappearance of Sir John Franklin's Arctic expedition in 1845, and the unexpected discovery of key evidence relating to the disappearance in 2009. When a chronometer issued to Franklin shows up in London 150 years after the expedition crudely disguised as a carriage clock, speculation about the fate of Franklin and his 129 men is reignited. In Canada's Northwest Territory, drifter Nelson Nilsson searches for his missing brother, Bert, but meets a British woman, Fay Morgan, who is researching her grandfather's past. Unwilling allies, Nelson and Fay look through Bert's papers, discovering unlikely connections between their own searches and Franklin's fate, but neither trusts the other and secrets remain hidden. O'Loughlin uses frequent historical flashbacks to trace the chronometer's passage among polar explorers, from Franklin, Joseph Bellot, and Elisha Kane to Cecil Meares and Roald Amundsen, without clearly defining the chronometer's provenance. Nelson and Fay's investigation is further clouded by Bert's apparent obsession with the real identity of Canada's infamous cop killer Albert Johnson, "the Mad Trapper of Rat River," and the World War II spy activities of Fay's grandfather. The historical depictions of polar explorers the men, conditions, and horrible fates are accurate and stunning.