On the Bookshelf...

Arctic Sun

Jack Grimwood

Kola Peninsula, 1987. High in the Soviet Arctic, a tiny village houses an apocalyptic secret . . . When research zoologist Dr Amelia Blackburn ventures north to investigate the ravages of the Chernobyl reactor meltdown, she stumbles on the evidence of another sinister disaster on the Norway-Russia border - one that appears far from innocent. Mother Russia will stop at nothing to prevent this information from being revealed, putting Amelia and her team in grave danger from the moment they leave the site. When the news reaches London, the eyes of British intelligence turn to the one man with the knowledge and skills to bring her back to safety - and find out what has really happened in the frozen North. Major Tom Fox thought he'd put his intelligence career behind him, but wrapped in a custody battle for his young son, Charlie, a request from his high-ranking father-in-law forces his hand. When the reluctant spy reaches Russia, it quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary mission. As Fox and Amelia fight for their lives - and their country - in Russia, Charlie is lead into dangers of his own in England. Three lives are about to be embroiled in the darkest secrets of the Cold War conflict - and a plot that, if left unchecked, will echo through history . .

Arctic Sun by Jack Grimwood is an exciting cloak and dagger style thriller in the style of the great John Le Carre. Set in the world just before the thawing of the cold war, it's the latest to follow Major Tom Fox. It's an instantly readable novel that show both the world in the 1980's set against the backdrop of his family falling apart.

A nuclear accident in the wilds of Russia provokes an international crisis. Tom's wife lies in hospital dying. Her family, who never took to Tom want control of his son. Against this, his father-in-law, a mandarin in the British Government sends him to Norway to find his ex lover, Amelia, who has been on the scene of the accident.

There's a lot to like about the characters in this novel. As its the first Jack Grimwood story I've read I didn't know of the past of Tom Fox. However, I soon picked up the gist of the backstory, so it made the book more enjoyable. Charlie, Tom's son, is probably the most interesting character. A young boy who sees and communicates with his dead sister, his trusting manner gets him into trouble, leading to problems for his father.

The book gains pace very quickly and you're turning those pages while you devour this enthralling story. You feel the cold when Tom is out in Russia and Norway, you experience the terror of the situations. This is a book that is up there with some of the best by John Le Carre. A taut thriller that deserves a read.

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Review by
AJ Steel
October 30, 2023

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