Friday, July 19, 2019

Terminal Freeze

Terminal Freeze
by Lincoln Child
Recommended Ages: 14+

Way north of the Arctic Circle, a team of scientists is studying the effects of global warming from a mothballed military base when they discover a gigantic predator trapped in the ice under a retreating glacier. A documentary filmmaker descends on the scene with a complete production crew, eager to exploit the discovery. But the dying remnants of a native tribe warns them that they are about to unleash an instrument of the gods' wrath. And that's exactly what seems to be happening when the mega-smilodon comes out of suspended animation and starts doing grisly things to the soldiers, the scientists and the film crew.

Is there a scientific explanation for what's going on? Maybe, maybe not. Would a paranormal explanation, in line with Native American beliefs, be more plausible? Maybe, maybe not. There's even a hint of an idea that what is stalking the Federal Wilderness Zone is from another world beyond the stars. Whatever is behind it, a lot of flesh-and-blood people are in front of it, and with the Northern Lights doing weird things and the grandmother of all blizzards pummeling the base, their options mainly narrow down to (1) beating a perilous escape across the Alaskan Ice Road and (2) turning around and fighting this unimaginable terror from Native Alaskan pre-history. Also, there's the option of trying to turn it into a TV spectacle, but let's not even go there. It's so stupid, it almost makes you cheer for the monster.

Everybody's survival is in serious jeopardy, and some of them make you care about them, darn it. It's a thriller swarming with diverse characters, a few of them with heroic characteristics, and some of them showing unexpected flashes of courage under pressure. There's a bit of romance in it, a heaping helping of "the polar ice is melting" alarmism, and some interesting hints that the author may harbor ill feelings toward certain show-biz types. But boy, is this story's monster a doozy! If I still had cats, I would be very polite to them for a while after reading this book. Also, the next time I come around a dark corner and find myself facing a pair of giant, yellow, slit-pupiled eyes, I'll think twice before I scream. If I have time.

This is the second of five paranormal thrillers featuring "enigmalogist" Dr. Jeremy Logan – and so, naturally, the fifth in the order I read them. As in Deep Storm before it, but unlike the three after it, Logan plays only a supporting role in this book. To see him as the point-of-view character, try The Third Gate, The Forgotten Room and Full Wolf Moon. With Douglas Preston, Child is also the co-author of 19 "Agent Pendergast" novels (including The Relic), five "Gideon Crew" books, and about five other novels. Lincoln Child's other solo works include Utopia (a.k.a. Lethal Velocity) and Death Match.

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