Cover-to-cover Arctic action, around and inside Ice Station Grendel: chases and fights in the snow, on the ice, in the air; hungry bears; evil Russians; predatory sea mammals.
Aboard the Polar Sentinel, Captain Gregory Perry and his crew of soldiers and scientists (including his beautiful lover, Dr. Amanda Reynolds) discover an abandoned Russian research station north of the Arctic Circle. The elaborate, six-level Ice Station Grendel has been out of use for more than fifty years, but high-tech cameras detect signs of life there. Meanwhile, in nearby Alaska, Fish and Game warden Matthew Pike rescues Seattle reporter Craig Teague from a small plane crash. Abruptly, they’re being pursued by Russian thugs shooting to kill. Matt and Craig narrowly escape, abetted some by the aforementioned bears, and take refuge with Matt’s bristly father-in-law John and ex-wife Jennifer, sheriff for the Nunamiut and Inupiat tribes. The surviving Russians remain in hot pursuit, reinforced by new soldiers. These are dispatched by Viktor Petkov, admiral and commander of the Russian Northern Fleet and son of the mastermind behind Ice Station Grendel, led away at gunpoint in 1948. Petkov plans both to retake the research facility, thus resuming his father’s work on cryogenics, and to eliminate Matt and company, who threaten this operation’s secrecy. At Ice Station Grendel, meanwhile, Greg and Amanda make a startling discovery: a school of ambulocetus natans (ancestor of the whale), many recently defrosted and highly predatory; hence the name of the station. The beasts’ first victim is perky postgrad Lacy Devlin, stalked while speed-skating for her morning exercise. In short order, scientists and soldiers become whale food, hunted down and devoured all over the mazelike outpost. Story proceeds in quick time-lined cuts, from these perspectives and a couple more: American troops prepare to seize the station and a Russian force encroaches with the same aim.
Rollins (Amazonia, 2002) writes with intelligence, clarity, and a refreshing sense of humor. He front-loads his best chills but stocks the last chunk of the book (his second hardcover) with surprise twists.