Review: ‘The Greenland Breach’ by Bernard Besson

Details
Originally published: Groenland
2011
Odile Jacob (France)

Present edition: Translated by Julie Rose
2013
Le French Book (New York)

ISBN:9781939474070

glb

Blurb

What is really at stake with global warming? The Arctic ice caps are breaking up. Europe and the East Coast of the Unites States brace for a tidal wave. Meanwhile, former French intelligence officer John Spencer Larivière, his karate-trained, steamy Eurasian partner, Victoire, and their computer-genius sidekick, Luc, pick up an ordinary freelance assignment that quickly leads them into the heart of an international conspiracy. Off the coast of Greenland, a ship belonging to the French geological research firm Terre Noire is in serious trouble. The murder of an important scientist jeopardizes evacuation. On land another killer is roaming the icy peaks after researchers, while a huge crevasse splits Greenland apart. In the glacial silence of the great north, a merciless war is being waged. Global warming and subsequent natural disasters hide international rivalries over discoveries that will change the future of humanity.

Review

A complicated eco-thriller that spans the North Atlantic and presents a grim future where the Greenland ice sheet has collapsed, releasing massive amounts of methane, the weather is catastrophically and globally disrupted, and nations are squabbling over control of oil and gas reserves.

John Spencer Lariviere, his partner Victoire and their friend Luc run Fermatown, a private intelligence company in Paris. Previously a soldier and intelligence officer John left the French intelligence agency to start his own firm after a serious injury in Afghanistan. Fermatown is getting by on CV checks until they get a phone call from Geraldine Harper, the Canadian joint owner of North Land, a prospecting company. Initially asked to babysit her daughter Mary Harper while she is at University in Paris, John agrees.

There’s a deeper game in progress though. Mrs Harper’s husband has disappeared in Greenland, the CEO of their rival company, the French-Danish firm Terre Noire has also disappeared and a ship carrying ice cores from the far north is in danger of sinking after being hit by a tsunami caused by an ice shelf collapsing in to the sea. John’s babysitting job becomes much more complicated when Mary Harper decides to visit Greenland to try to find her father. He, Victoire and Luc struggle to discover the culprits while avoiding killers, kidnappers and exploding ice.

The plot is convoluted, with red herrings a plenty. The reader is directed in several different directions, following the protagonists as they pick apart information and respond to events. I almost enjoyed this book. The characters were good although somewhat stereotypical (all the Danes and Norwegians are described as Vikings, Victoire’s Cambodian ancestry is used as a explanation for her actions when it’s contextually irrelevant), the plot and action are interesting, but the language was stilted on occasion. It didn’t flow well. I also got a bit bored by the narrative.

I think it would make a good action film but as a book in translation it struggles. Maybe the original French language version flowed better? If you like spy thrillers give it a go.

3/5

 

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