The Quality of Silence

9781101903674_p0_v4_s192x300Rosamund Lupton’s newest suspense thriller – The Quality of Silence – had my undivided attention throughout the day.  Following a mother and her deaf daughter as they drove a ten ton rig in a fast-paced chase through the Arctic cold, I could not put the book down until I finished.  What a ride.

The story focuses on Ruby, a clever ten year old who was born deaf, and her mother, Yasmin, a beautiful astrophysicist, as they search for Matt, father and husband presumed to be dead in a lethal explosion at an Eskimo village.  Not willing to believe he is dead, the mother and daughter hitch a ride along the Dalton Highway in Alaska to the Arctic Circle to find him.  When the driver of the truck has a stroke, Yasmin takes the wheel to drive into a snowstorm and across narrow frozen rivers.  Afraid to leave Ruby to try to communicate with strangers, she takes her along, but when they realize they are being followed, the tension escalates.

Villains come from obvious as well as insidious sources.  Lupton uses the effects of fracking on the environment as the major villain in the story, with  sharp observations about its effects on the ecosystem, and the dire consequences for the environment in the future.  As a ten year old deaf child, Ruby feels excluded from friends at her mainstreamed school as she deals with silent bullies.  And, Yasmin worries that her wildlife documentary-maker husband, Matt, who has been working for months in the Arctic night, has betrayed her with an Inupiaq woman; his last email – “I kissed her because I missed you.”

Lupton cleverly uses Ruby’s young voice as a distraction from the terror, and grounds the story in the family dynamics.  Ruby’s optimism was often a welcome distraction from the nail-biting drama.

All ends well with the bad guys getting their due, thanks to Ruby and her tech savvy.  Once again, Lupton delivers  a satisfying and compelling tale.  All of Lupton’s books offer a thrilling ride, but this one was chilling.

I look forward to the next one.

Reviews of Other Lupton books:  


Stone Mattress

Margaret Atwood’s short story for The New Yorker – “Stone Mattress” – decidedly changed my mind about exploring on my own.  Who knows who could be lurking among those seemingly innocent elder travelers?

Atwood’s character, Verna, is a clever murderer – but she has a good excuse.  Her path to destruction started in high school, fueled by a horrific incident that changed her life.  When Verna discovers Bob, the smirking cretin who caused her misery, as a fellow passenger on board a cruise to the Arctic, the opportunity for revenge is too easy to pass up.

Having just enjoyed cookies and wine on a cruise through Christmas-land, I considered taking another cruise – maybe on my own.  Atwood has disabused me of that option – at least to the Arctic.

Her short story is compact – with a zinger ending – just like her many of her books.

Read Margaret Atwood’s “Stone Mattress” – here

The Explorer’s Code

With a fast-paced mix of oceanography, archeology, and virology, Kitty Pilgrim’s The Explorer’s Code offers an adventure with action that mixes DaVinci Code with Indiana Jones.   Add a handsome rich hero and a beautiful intelligent scientist, the panoramic views of Monaco, an ocean cruise along the Riviera, a search for treasure, and expect to fall into a formula that will meet all expectations.

Cordelia Stapleton interrupts her research to travel to Monaco to receive an award in the name of her great-great grandfather, a polar explorer.  Along the way, she becomes an heiress and then meets handsome and rich John Sinclair, who dabbles in philanthropy and digging up treasures in Ephesus.  A group of sinister Russians and Texas evangelists are stalking Cordelia, hoping to find a valuable Arctic land deed she has inherited.  The CIA is following them all, along with a potentially lethal virus lurking near the deed.  The cryptic clue to finding the deed is in her grandfather’s old journal, and they all follow her to Paris, London, and finally Longyearbyen, Norway, about 800 miles from the North Pole.

The exciting finale focuses on the planting of a devastating explosion at the Global Seed Vault,

Entrance to the Global Seed Vault

the facility that preserves a wide variety of plant seeds in an underground cavern to provide insurance against the loss of seeds from a global crisis.   The site actually exists and is partially funded – in real life – by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Fun to read…

Related Article:

New York Times article on the Seed Vault