Two Norwegians are murdered in the Soviet wilderness, setting off a web of intrigue in this “consistently superior” Cold War spy thriller (Chicago Tribune).
In this “galloping good read” that blends “Stephen King horror and Ingmar Bergman darkness,” Jan Johansen heads to Finland on a seemingly routine intelligence operation—but when he and his companion wander over the Russian border, they are gunned down in cold blood (The Washington Post Book World).
Halvard Starheim, an experienced explorer and Jan’s good friend, is determined to find out what went wrong. He is joined by Jan’s beautiful widow and a journalist, who is hiding his own dangerous secret. Their journey will slowly undercover an international conspiracy—and lead to a terrifying showdown in the freezing Arctic winter.
Interweaving the stories of these three characters and revealing the complex political tensions in the region where northern Europe meets the USSR, the international bestselling author of Unforgotten and Homeland offers a suspenseful tale of adventure and espionage: “The classically structured spy thriller has rarely been better done” (The New York Times).
After the smooth entertainment and suspense of her bestseller Night Sky, the far more ponderous start of Francis's second novel is disappointing initially. Norwegian explorer Hal Starheim is tormented by his part in a military operation that goes awry during the Cold War years, an undertaking in which his friend Jan Johansen is killed by Russian border guards. Although the incident is thoroughly investigated, no satisfactory explanation of why Jan might have crossed Finland's neutral border into Russia is ever divulged. His young widow, Ragna, vents her rage and loneliness by working to block the installation of a top-secret military base on land precious to the nomadic Lapp tribes, a battle that brings her and Hal unknowingly into contact with a superbly narcissistic Soviet spy. Like a series of dominos, Francis sets meticulous plot lines, lush descriptions and highly colored characters in place for an exhilarating finale on the icy reaches of the high plateau in dispute. 100,000 first printing; $125,000 ad/promo; Reader's Digest Condensed Book; BOMC alternate.