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FROZEN SOLID by James M. Tabor

FROZEN SOLID

By James M. Tabor

Pub Date: March 26th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-345-53063-9
Publisher: Ballantine

The South Pole is the real star of Tabor's (The Deep Zone, 2012, etc.) latest thriller. The bleak and forbidding nature of the pole lends a powerful atmosphere to a story that begins with two mysterious deaths and grows to include an international chemical conspiracy.

Scientist Hallie Leland arrives at the pole to replace Emily Durant, a recently deceased friend and colleague, on a biochemical research project. But her mission is ill-fated from the start: Just after her arrival, she sees a female scientist die at her desk of a spontaneous hemorrhage. Soon afterward, she discovers a video that’s been left (perhaps a bit too conveniently) on Emily’s computer which reveals that she was sexually tortured before being murdered. Hallie also learns another pair of dangerous secrets: The pole base is home to a microorganism known as Vishnu, whose chemical powers have the potential to cure global warming—information that the world’s energy dealers are anxious to suppress. Finally, she learns that Emily was somehow connected with Triage, a conspiracy to solve overpopulation by spreading a sterilizing virus among the world’s women. There are plenty of suspenseful scenes, including a near-fatal deep-sea dive with a sabotaged diving suit, as Hallie works to connect all these dots while more scientists die and Emily’s killer is still at large.

The final payoff isn’t quite as satisfying as one might hope: The Vishnu subplot is disposed of in one sentence, and the criminal ringleader is executed offstage. Still, the setting and a generally well-turned plot make this a fine thriller.