It wasn’t until I finished Cold, Cold Heart that I realised that this is the second book in the Katie Flanagan series, and despite my repeated reminders to myself not to start another series, I’m going to have to read the first, Deep Water.
How lovely it is to have a female protagonist who is a research scientist; this fact alone made me want to read this novel although I have to stress that you don’t need to brush up on your science lessons to enjoy the book with her role providing a backdrop rather than interrupting what is essentially a locked room mystery on an Antarctic station where Katie is researching the effect of darkness on the human sleep cycle, body and mind.
We meet Katie before she sets off to the remote station when Lyle Linstrom recommends her for the role when one of the original researchers has to be evacuated before the ‘over-wintering’ sets in. There are ten people in all on the base, all men apart from Sara the medical doctor who Katie will assist in the hopefully unlikely situation that there is a medical emergency. After all for the eight month duration no-one can get onto the base, nor can anyone leave.
Meanwhile in the UK Daniel Marchmont, a patent attorney, is in charge of due diligence for Lyle Linstrom into an important piece of research that as a venture capitalist he is eager to invest in.
With worrying developments in both the UK and the Antarctic, the reader is kept thoroughly entertained, mind busy trying to work out how the two seemingly separate storylines will come together as we travel backwards and forwards from the brilliant descriptions of the cold and dark, remote world on the research base to the more familiar territory of day and night in the UK. With side storylines of Daniel’s young daughter’s rare illness and the dilemma’s he and his wife Rachel face, to the adventures of Marmaduke the cat, alongside witnessing the unveiling of many of the characteristics of the scientists on the base I was well and truly hooked.
Christine Poulson has developed some fantastically realistic characters, both major and minor, and impeccably in keeping with their chosen professions. There is the sympathetic doctor, Sara, the chef Ernesto, who is keen and occasionally sensitive about the food he provides for those confined on the base. Craig is the strong silent type, the youngest Adam who despite the vigorous health assessment before being given the go-ahead is slightly wobbly due to the almost unimaginable eight-months confined to base in this remote, cold and dark spot in the world. Graeme the base commander is the strong avuncular type, a wise man who listens to those around him with Alex, the mechanic and Justin and Nick who are the astronomers make up the rest of the party. With the long hours being punctuated with competitive games there also seems to be a joker in the pack but of course some things simply aren’t funny!
Cold, Cold Heart certainly played into my love of crime fiction which takes a different approach and this intelligent offering kept me hooked whilst thankful that it wasn’t me out there in the cold.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to the author Christine Poulson for arranging a me to be provided with a copy of Cold, Cold Heart after I mentioned her contribution to The CWA Short Story Anthology: Mystery Tour.