Fortress Publications, 2011
Trade Paperback, 412 pages
Wealthy entrepreneur Nigel Cain has devised an efficient new way to bring the earth's most precious resource - clean water - to the masses by transporting massive man-made icebergs from the frigid arctic and delivering them literally to the doorsteps of millions. Gabriel Pike works in a small engineering firm that has been handed the chance of a lifetime - they have been chosen to give the final safety approval to pilot the gigantic block of ice into New York harbor.
A consummate showman, Cain has built a fabulous 5-Star hotel and casino high atop the iceberg so his celebrity guests and media elite can cover this news-breaking event from beginning to the end. Pike is whisked away and dumped in the lap of luxury where he is expected by all too simply rubber-stamp his inspection.
A brutal winter storms ravages the iceberg and only through Pike's quick thinking are they able to survive. But the storm reveals more than Pike's ability to think on his feet, he makes some disturbing discoveries and has serious doubts about the safety or the real intentions of the project. A grisly double homicide on the ice puts the inspections on the back burner and Pike's life is suddenly spiraling out of control as he is accused of being the jealous murderer in a lover's triangle.
But Pike soon discovers that there is far more than just his life on the line. He uncovers a conspiracy more heinous than anything he could have imagined - a plot that will level a city, change the political face of America and whose shockwaves will be felt around the world. Now, if only he can only survive long enough to stop it.
Arctic Fire by Paul Byers is the latest fix for this long term thriller/action/adventure junkie. Arctic Fire opens with the startling scene of a German made iceberg-submarine actually being responsible for sinking the Titanic. Then we go on to meet our protagonist, Gabriel Pike. Pike is an engineer with a firm hired to inspect the latest project by wealthy businessman Nigel Cain. Cain, with the help of his ever present assistant, Elizabeth Mallory, is transporting an iceberg to New York City for fresh drinking water and to prove that this could conceivably be the answer to the worsening world-wide drought situation. Since this has never been done, Pike's firm is hired to inspect Cain's infrastructure and procedure for towing the ice and retrieving the water.
Before Pike even makes it to the ship, though, he is involved in two high profile incidents that generate enough news coverage to make him an instant celebrity. His new-found and unwanted fame make it even more difficult for him to do his job. To add to the confusion he seems to be unwittingly part of a love triangle, err quadrilateral. Oh heck, he is inexplicably and suddenly incredibly desirable to three different women.
Pike is at times MacGyver-esque character who comes up with solutions on the fly with the materials at hand. Byers novel is along the same lines of a Clive Cussler novel, so suspend disbelief and expect someone who can do it all under extraordinary circumstances even while injured. Also note that many steaks will be eaten. This isn't as complicated a novel as many in this genre, so it is an easy read. Take note, though, that the real action seems to suddenly start toward the last quarter of the novel.
I had a couple technical problems with the premise of the novel but I can't say too much or I'll spoil the big twist at the end. Let me just say that sparks can happen in many different ways beyond all the women vying for Pike's attention. Additionally, I question the premise of taking an iceberg anywhere for drinking water when the scarcity of water is based on a global warming model where the ice caps are all melting. It just seems like another short term solution that, while it makes for a great idea in a novel, isn't logical if thought through to the end. The infrastructure for inexpensive desalinization would make more sense.
Setting my misgivings aside, Arctic Fire is great escapism, however, and there were several parts that left me longing to watch a MacGyver episode just one more time. Technically, the writing could have been tightened up and some scenes eliminated as they had no bearing or real purpose in the novel.
Disclosure: I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the author and Premier Virtual Author Book Tours for review purposes.