All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

East of Desolation – Jack Higgins

on July 7, 2010

If nothing else, this book taught me that Greenland is a part of the North-American Continent! This book takes place entirely in Greenland and I thought it’d be a pretty interesting country for my 2010 Global Reading Challenge! Of course, I assumed it was part of Europe for some reason – maybe because it’s semi under Danish rule, maybe because my geographic knowledge is flawed and I thought it a lot closer to the European mainland than it actually is. It’s actually quite a long way! And it’s pretty close to some of the island parts of north eastern Canada, so I guess that’s why it’s classified as part of the North American Continent.

Anyway. Onto the book. Joe is a charter pilot working in Greenland for the money. He flies in supplies to remote areas, mechanical parts to oil rigs and drilling operations, charters for tourists who want to see the parts unreachable by commercial airlines. The story sort of dithers for a bit, about a famous actor named Jack who is currently hunting polar bears in some remote part of Greenland. Joe makes weekly supply runs to his boat for cash and when a mysterious woman arrives, asking to be taken to Jack, Joe flies her out too. She’s ‘a lot of woman’ to quote the book (several times) and Joe is attracted. It seems she is too, but things hit a bump when she splashes vodka into his virgin Bloody Mary and makes him vomit everywhere. Joe’s an alcoholic who had therapy that makes it impossible for him to drink now – it causes immediate upchucking.

When he arrives back from that trip out to Jack’s boat, the story moves up a notch. Joe has more people waiting to see him, insurance agents who paid out on the death of two pilots in a wreck in (yet another) remote part of Greenland. They want to fly up to the wreck and ascertain that the dead pilots are actually the ones they paid out sums on. Joe it seems, is reluctant to charter them up there, claiming he can’t put down his plane as he can only land on water or tarmac, not ice, as he doesn’t have ski’s on, and at this stage of the year, it’s all still frozen up there. He recommends a pilot friend, who still has ski’s on his plane to do the job and that friend flies up for a brief look but comes back reporting unable to land, that there was no where he could put down. Unfortunately for Joe, someone mentions that the ice has broken up and he can land on the lake, so he’s forced to fly the group up there.

From there the book kicks up a gear as it becomes obvious that pretty much no one is what they seem. The insurance people are satisfied that the people they paid out on are the people in the plane, but it’s obvious they’re looking for something in the wreck. Joe finds ski marks from a plane, so he knows that his friend was obviously able to put his plane down close to the wreck, despite claiming otherwise. What is the big mystery and what does it have to do with the stunningly beautiful ‘widow’ of one of the dead pilots from the wreck?

All in all, this wasn’t a bad little afternoon read. The characters were a bit two-dimensional though: the aging screen star, the beautiful stranger, the sinister insurance agents, the grieving widow and it was a bit slow in the beginning but once everything got going it was suitably fast enough with plenty of action peppering the last third of the book. There’s some foreshadowing in the very first page of the book but somehow when it all comes out, it’s still interesting and you can kind of believe the coincidence.


(Book #39 of my 50 Book Challenge)

One response to “East of Desolation – Jack Higgins

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