Emma Haughton (Hodder and Stoughton) 2021, 375pp, RRP $32.99

Haughton’s first novel for adults is a psychodramatic murder/mystery pageturner with a lot going for it, although it’s somewhat undone by at least one major credibility gap.

Doctor Kate North is recovering from a terrible tragedy, and she’s scarred, haunted, insomniac and psychologically-scrambled – and yet, somehow, she’s chosen to spend six months at the frozen UN research station in Antarctica, shut off from civilisation with a bunch of international strangers. And immediately there’s a problem: given our intimate perspective of Kate’s ongoing pain and anguish, it must be said that she would NEVER be chosen for such a challenging position. But anyway.

Struggling to settle in, Kate also wonders what happened to Jean-Luc, the previous doctor, and so she naturally starts to snoop about, even as some of her colleagues wind up dead. And Haughton certainly knows how to build suspense, and a clever structure means that we go from slow and almost calm (if that’s quite the word when Kate’s about) to increasingly panicked and freaked-out.

Echoing everything from director John Carpenter’s classic remake of The Thing to the also snowy (and far less successful) recent novel Shiver, this is very readable, even if, at times, you’ll feel the chill of improbability.

Dave Bradley

This title is available through the Hachette Australia website. Click HERE to purchase your copy.


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