Polar Bear dawn, by Lyle Nicholson

Expansive Conspiracy Thriller is a long ride

Polar Bear Dawn is an action thriller that includes murders committed to advance an elaborate plot to enrich Wall Street investors.  There are other murders and deaths and many complex plots and counter-plots, and a large cast of characters that are woven together over a long and winding novel. The author tells us that this is the first book in a series featuring detective Bernadette Callahan of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, but very little of this book is told from Bernadette’s perspective, and without the author’s supertitle on the cover, it’s hard to tell while reading it that Bernadette is the “main” character.

The story starts out as the investigation into a murder, actually two murders, at an Arctic oil sands facility. Only one of the victims is partially eaten by a passing polar bear, which accounts for the title.  The plot quicky moves to the conspiracy to interrupt the oil processing, staged by shadowy figures working for unethical Wall Street Barron’s who want to make millions by manipulating the price of crude. There are several investigators picking at pieces of the puzzle in Alaska and Canada, Bernadette being only one of them.

On the positive side, the books action and plot development in the first half is pretty good, and it is easy to get involved with the story early. The science around the sabotage plot is a bit far fetched, but the reader can go with it to a point. It’s an engaging story and parts are well-written. The book is worth reading and includes many interesting characters.  Particularly if you love long complex plots and far flung conspiracies, combined with sporadic action, you will enjoy this read. 

On the negative side, the book is WAY too long and drags considerably after the fist third. There are no real mysteries left after the halfway mark and the protagonist and his band of soldiers are not particularly sympathetic. There are far too many convenient circumstances, including how the heroes have unlimited access to all information due to their computer hacking prowess, and they have unlimited funds and an omnipotent network of allies anywhere in the world. It’s just too easy.  The author is going for suspense, but it is lacking 

The book is also riddled with copy editing errors, which become a distraction. I stopped noting them after the first 40. The writing generally is loose and wandering. The book would be much better if a good editor cleaned it up and cut a hundred pages or so. But, this is what we have. 

At the end of the long story, I am not a fan or Bernadette and I will not be spending any time reading the next book in the series. (There is a long preview at the end of this book) The author just didn’t make me care enough about her or convince me that the next book’s plot and writing will be worth my time. But, your interest level may vary. 


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