Kirkus Reviews QR Code



Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-374-26644-1
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

 Danish novelist Heg's first English-language publication is an attempt to freeze out Gorky Park by moving from an intimate mystery to an ever-widening circle of corruption and danger--and to even colder climes. Surly Inuit/Greenlander Smilla Jaspersen is a world-class expert on ice and snow who, since emigrating to Denmark, has gone on nine scientific expeditions to her homeland and published half a dozen highly regarded papers in scholarly journals--but she still can't hold a steady job. When Isaiah Christensen, her six-year-old downstairs neighbor with a long-standing fear of heights, plunges from the roof of the White Palace, their apartment building, Smilla presses for a police inquiry; but instead of a homicide detective, the police send an investigator from the fraud division. Why? Also, why did somebody perform a muscle biopsy on Isaiah after he died? What was he doing on that roof in the first place? And what does his death have to do with his father's death on an expedition to Greenland two years before--a death that, Smilla learns from extravagantly pious accountant Elsa LÅbing, was recompensed by a full, unearned pension by the Cryolite Corporation? With the help of another neighbor, dyslexic mechanic Peter Fjl, Smilla follows a trail from the White Palace through the Cryolite records of a fateful (and fatal) 1966 expedition, and ends up aboard the Kronos, a smuggling ship stuffed with drugs and desperate characters and bound for Greenland's Barren Glacier and a truly unimaginable cargo. Smilla, a wonderfully tough-talking amateur sleuth, gets out past her depth aboard the Kronos when her shipmates keep trying to toss her overboard. But her combination of brisk misanthropy and shrewd commentary on the colonial exploitation of Greenland--yes, this is a postcolonial novel about the Arctic--could score big. (First printing of 40,000)