Blood and Ice by Robert Masello. Bantam, 2009.
Blood and Ice has everything it needs to be a great thriller; a desolate and isolated setting, a main character with a tragic past, a mystery, a love story and a creepy secret.
The main character, Michael Wilde is a journalist who has traveled to Antarctica both to write a piece for his magazine and to try to get away from his own troubles. He is a strong leading character; likeable and interesting. A few days into his assignment he goes on a polar dive and discovers two bodies frozen deep within a block of ice, a man and woman. Immediately he connects with the woman’s frozen image and becomes protective of the body as it is taken back to the research facility and the ice begins to melt.
The story flips between following Michael and his own flashbacks, and the mysterious couple, their lives during the 1800’s and how they became entombed within the sea. This keeps the reader interested in both of the story lines and prolongs the suspense; but it also seems to slow the pace of the novel.
The writing style is full of cliches and flowery descriptions; Masello seems to be suffering from an excess of adjectives. Even though the novel was partly set in the 1800’s, there is still no excuse for the use of the word ‘bosom’. Perhaps that is my own personal aversion from reading too many overwrought romance novels in my youth, it is impossible to read that word without picturing a heroine clasping something. In any case, you don’t pick up a book like this for the depth of the prose, you read it because you can’t put it down. And at that it generally succeeds. Even though it was predictable, it was still captivating enough to keep the pages turning late into the night. However, the first two thirds of the novel are a lot stronger than the remainder. Once the secrets have been revealed the plot loses its focus and heads towards an incredibly far fetched and unsatisfying ending. But, as a whole, it was worth reading.