White Heat

M J McGrath, Author
M.J. McGrath. Viking, $25.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-670-02248-9
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British journalist McGrath (The Long Exile: A Tale of Inuit Betrayal) makes her fiction debut with a solid thriller, the first in a series featuring Edie Kiglatuk, a half Inuit/half white, Arctic guide. A recovering alcoholic, Edie makes her living leading white (or qalunaat) tourists on hunting expeditions near her tiny outpost town of Autisaq on Canada's Ellesmere Island. When Felix Wagner is fatally shot during such a hunting trip, the local council of elders hurries to declare the death an accident, despite Edie's claim that she saw strange footprints near the body. After Felix's assistant, Andy Taylor, disappears during a subsequent trip while under the supervision of Edie's beloved ex-stepson, Joe Inukpuk, she suspects there's more going on than the routine perils of life in the Arctic. A picture soon emerges that includes a fight for precious natural resources and secrets that stretch back generations. McGrath captures the frigid landscape beautifully, and her heroine personifies the tension between the Inuit and qalunaat ways of life. (Aug.)
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