Here’s a taut, well written thriller that you will read in a rush of “What happens? What happens?”, but then think about for a long time afterwards.
Set in an unspecified not-too-distant future, it tells the story of an international crisis triggered by an (initially rather insignificant) incident on the remote Alaskan border with Russia. There is plenty of tight, well-written action, and the characters – including several feisty women in different roles – are beautifully drawn and fully engaging. The writing is a joy, and the depictions of the unusual arctic setting are atmospheric and memorable. What I may remember longest from this book, however, is the compelling depiction of the politics underpinning a potential world war.
As two world powers square up to each other, it becomes clear that this small incident has roots going back deep into history. Other countries jostle uneasily towards one side or another, looking to their own interests; financial agencies struggle to contain economic risks; on all sides, key players are struggling to second guess each other, in the full knowledge that both sides will lie about their intentions and that a wrong guess could have desperate consequences; even on the same side, different players have very different agendas, looking to manage or exploit the situation for their own advantage. And cutting across all of this, there are the random networks of human friendships and animosity, sometimes assisting, sometimes undercutting, the higher political objectives.
I was completely persuaded by this book. Seriously worth the read.