Trial by Ice: The True Story of Murder and Survival on the 1871 Polaris Expedition

Richard Parry, Author
Richard Parry, Author Ballantine Books $23.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-345-43925-3
Hardcover - 978-0-7862-3450-9
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During the first U.S. attempt to reach the North Pole, the doomed 1871 Polaris expedition's team leader, Charles Francis Hall, mysteriously died. In this book, Parry, a novelist (That Fateful Lightning, etc.), provides a vivid but uneven account of the captain's death, which may have been brought on by a muddled command structure that encouraged insubordination, even mutiny, among the crew. Suspense builds as Parry describes the events leading up to Hall's ""murder,"" then climaxes in horrifying detail. Once Hall is gone, however, the plot's momentum disappears, with half the book to go. The fragmented crew's attempt to survive the Arctic until they are rescued and brought back to civilization is evoked only by clich s. Readers holding out through the pedestrian middle section will be rewarded with an enticing account of the government's coverup and an abssorbing chapter about the autopsy performed on Hall's body 100 years after it was buried. Author tour. (Jan. 30)
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