NIGHT OF THE BLACK FROST by Arthur Catherall


Email this review


What begins in a comfortable Norwegian suburb shifts to the Barents Sea for an adventurous chiller. Leif Knudsen is on a test jaunt with two fishermen uncles to qualify for a work-around-the-world trip. Jan is friendlier than Peder but both seasoned sailors note his initiative and let the sixteen-year-old take over while they rest and wait for the nets to fill. Seeing first a Russian plane, then its parachuting pilot dip into the sea, Leif starts the engines prematurely, and accidentally jams the nets in the propeller. With the onset of a black frost, a freezing fog that can ice over and capsize a ship, the rescue becomes even more dangerous. In a further complication, a survivor insists on going out again to rescue his co-pilot, forfeiting an opportunity to defect. And then there is Catherall's subtle and suspense-filled undercurrent showing the boy's slowly improving faculties, the Russian's highly emotional reasoning, the uncles finding the unconscious co-pilot and singing--off-key but right in tune--to keep themselves warm. The message (get an education while you can) is as loud as a foghorn but at least it is held until the very end, and the defection of the Russian is carried out with a minimum of theatrics. You can send any boy out on a Night like this and expect him to enjoy it.

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1968
Publisher: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard