The Greenland Breach by Bernard Besson

greenland-breach1

As part of the France Book Tours, I am pleased to welcome you to my blog today with a candid review of the eco-thriller The Greenland Breach.

 Release date: October 30, 2013
– Direct-to-digital translation (all major ebook outlets)
– Isbn: 978-1-939474-94-0 (Kindle)/ 978-1-939474-95-7 (epub)
– 113,000 words/285 pages
Buying links: http://www.lefrenchbook.com/get-books/ or the Amazon Le French Book page: http://www.amazon.com/l/6327897011#

Synopsis:

A stylish, fast-paced spy thriller about the intrigue, economic warfare and struggles for natural resources promised by 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 bisexual computer-genius sidekick, Luc, pick up an ordinary freelance assignment that quickly leads them into the glacial silence of the great north, where a merciless war is being waged for control of discoveries that will change the future of humanity.

Author:

Award-winning thriller writer Bernard Besson, who was born in Lyon, France, in 1949, is a former top-level chief of staff of the French intelligence services, an eminent specialist in economic intelligence and Honorary General Controller of the French National Police. He was involved in dismantling Soviet spy rings in France and Western Europe when the USSR fell and has real inside knowledge from his work auditing intelligence services and the police. He has also written a number of prize-winning thrillers and several works of nonfiction. He currently lives in the fourteenth arrondissement of Paris, right down the street from his heroes.
Author page: http://www.lefrenchbook.com/our-authors/bernard-besson/

Translator:

Julie Rose is a prize-winning, world-renowned translator of major French thinkers, known for, among other works, her acclaimed translation of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, which was published by Random House in 2008. She has translated twenty-eight books, including many French classics, and writes on the side. She lives in her hometown of Sydney, Australia, with her husband, dog and two cats.

greenland-breach-banner

My Review:

This book is the first ecological thriller I have ever come across, but there is little moralising or preaching here. The author has a knack for taking topical issues and making exciting, highly complex adventures out of them. Global warming is but one of the culprits in this story: corporate and personal greed, national pride, inflated egos and lack of concern for the future of humanity are all equally to blame.

The plot is complex, with so many strands combining and so many instances of double-crossing that it is difficult to know whom to trust. Even the three main investigators at Fermatown come in ambiguous shades of grey at times. This makes them more nuanced and less obviously heroic than the main protagonists of many international thrillers. They are prone to appalling lack of judgement and rash decisions at times, which I attribute to their character flaws, but which the author may have done to move the plot forward. Their knowledge of the latest technology is unparalleled, but they are sometimes less discerning when it comes to people.

This not just about spying and international conspiracies, however As readers, we also witness moral dilemmas and real murders, with victims about whom we have started to care. My favourite character is the captain of the vessel stranded in Greenland, Loïc Le Guévenec, a simple man forced into bravery, when all he dreams of is to retire with his wife to a little house on the coast of Brittany.

The prose is taut and fast-paced, as befits a thriller, and you can tell that Monsieur Besson really knows his stuff. Yet it has more poetry to it than some American thrillers I have recently read. The beauty and severity of Greenland is lovingly described, as is the community feel of the Montparnasse district in Paris, where the Fermatown posse work and live.

In conclusion: buckle up tightly, you are in for a roller coaster of an exciting read, but you will have to concentrate, as the storyline may confuse you if you are not paying close attention.

See what other reviewers thought of this book by joining the blog tour here.

If you would like to win an e-book copy of The Greenland Breach, please leave a comment below and tweet about this review before midday (GMT) on Monday 11th November and I will select a winner at random and ask for your email address to have the link sent to you. Since it is an e-book, it is open to readers worldwide. Thank you and hope you enjoy the read!

October Reading but November Prize to Be Won

I have been somewhat missing in action this month, which can only mean the following:  brainpower is being expended on the mechanical rather than the imaginative, and cold hard cash is being earned. However, in terms of reading, it has been a rich month of not very extensive but high quality reading. Mainly crime fiction, but with an angsty French novel thrown in for contrast. Sadly, October has not been a month conducive to detailed book reviews, so here are my top-line thoughts about each of the books.

M.J. McGrath: White Heat

Absolutely loved this tale of the iciest reaches of the Arctic and of the human heart. Edie Kiglatuk is half-Inuit, half-American and the incredibly strong yet vulnerable type of diminutive heroine that I cannot resist. Yes, there were perhaps some overly detailed descriptions of how to build an igloo, but I am an anthropologist at heart, so I was fascinated by all this.

DeadMenSkiPatricia Moyes: Dead Men Don’t Ski

Another wintry tale, but this time a much gentler one: Golden Age detective fiction transposed to South Tyrol. The author is of a later generation than Dorothy Sayers or Agatha Christie, but she has the same wit, elegance and careful plotting. Thank you to Margot Kinberg for making me aware of this author.

E.F. Benson: The Blotting Book

Charming little oddity, makes a nice change of pace and style to modern crime fiction, but perhaps not quite as intriguing to contemporary palates

Patrick Modiano: La Petite Bijou

Written in a deliberately flat, child-like style, this is the story of a woman’s search for her mother and her attempt to reclaim her past, or find her true identity. A short, moving, rather disquieting piece.

blacklands-by-belinda-bauer-259-pBelinda Bauer: Blacklands

There are some weaknesses and implausibilities here, but what an amazing debut novel this is! I was completely absorbed by the story of a boy and his grandmother, the far-reaching consequences of tragedy and a serial killer who is presented in an almost farcical style. (Sounds difficult to accept or believe, but you will understand if you read it.)

Peggy Blair: Midnight in Havana

An excellent near-impossible set-up which has the readers wondering throughout the story, plus lashings of what seems to me very authentic Cuban atmosphere. A visual, auditive treat, and an engaging Cuban cop who can see dead people.

Anya Lipska: Where the Devil Can’t Go

Where_the_Devil_Can__t_Go_coverI just love books describing the clash of cultures (in this case, between the Polish and the British communities in the East End of London). There is also a communality of sensitivity and historical experience of East European countries which makes me appreciate this novel even more. It does sometimes stretch belief a little that an amateur (even one who speaks the language) would have quite so much clout in an investigation, but all in all an engaging, high-octane read, which I gulped down quite greedily.

However, if you visit this blog tomorrow, 4th November, I will have a more detailed review of ‘The Greenland Breach’ by Bernard Besson for you. The first ecological thriller I have ever read, and what a rollercoaster ride it was!  Moreover, if you leave a comment, you can win a copy of it in e-book format, no matter where you are based in the world.