Friday, April 30, 2010

Review: WHITE FOR DANGER by David Stevens

WHITE FOR DANGER by David Stevens (1979) starts in New Zealand and heads to Antarctica, as renowned writer and adventurer Logan Adams is roped into tagging along with his brother-in-law's Antarctica expedition - his brother-in-law was the sole survivor of a previous mission, and he's determined to go back and find the two men left behind, that he believes are still alive and were taken to a hidden city on the frozen continent.

The wealthy backers of the return expeditition aren't worried about finding the men (who they presume are dead), but are very interested in the potential archaeological find. But (of course) there is much more than meets the eye to the motives of those on the expedition, and other outsiders as well. During the perilous journey to the target area a series of disasters which seem like sabotage effects the already strained relationships of the team. Even worse awaits them once they reach their destination.

I found myself really enjoying this book - in part because I think it brought back some nostalgic memories of reading Alistair McLean and Desmond Bagley tales of adventure when I was growing up. WHITE FOR DANGER is very much in that style, and to be honest it does read as of a different era, and as from an age gone by writing-wise, but this doesn't necessarily detract too much. It was fun to read a 1970s-style action/adventure novel set in New Zealand and Antartica, and to see some of the foreign characters thoughts on the New Zealand cities and towns as they were 30-plus years ago.

Stevens writes very much in the Bagley/McLean style, with plenty of interesting action, right from early on, and intrigue throughout. His characters are interesting, although some at times can seem a little cliched (its probably hard not to when they were written 30 years ago) - there are fewer of the moral ambiguities than we are perhaps used to with more modern tales.

However, Stevens does a great job with some of the characters, making them 'more than meets the eye' not just from a mystery/intrigue perspective, but from a personality/emotion/human perspective - particularly Adams' brother-in-law. Things build to a head as the team travels to Antarctica and then attempts to survive both the harsh environment, and unknown dangers of a more human kind. I found myself caught up in the story, and would be happy to read more of Stevens' work (if he wrote any more novels after this).

This book was read and reviewed for Dorte Jakobsen's excellent 2010 Global Reading Challenge.

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