by Jack Higgins
Cape Desolation, Greenland–The wreckage of a private airplane is discovered high up in the icy desert. The pilot listed in the log and the body found near the plane are not the same. Charter pilot Joe Martin is hired by the pilot’s widow and insurance company to fly them through deadly terrain to the site of the crash…
I couldn’t keep myself from reading East of Desolation when I saw it on the library shelf. A thriller about an arctic pilot in search of a mysterious downed plane? Are you kidding me? This book was just begging me to read it! I practically ran to my car to start listening to the audiobook.
So I’ll start with the positives. I like the main character, Joe Martin. He is a delivery pilot who is content to spend the rest of his days delivering supplies to the remote areas of Greenland. Not much upsets him because he has chosen this simple, yet dangerous lifestyle, until he is hired to locate a plane that crashed years earlier. Higgins does a wonderful job writing the aviation scenes and it was just fun listening to Joe fly against the Greenland elements. The storyline was intriguing; I was constantly eager to learn more about the crashed plane. It really isn’t hard to figure out who the ‘bad guys’ are, but there are a few surprise twists that kept East of Desolation interesting. I even enjoyed the motley crew of secondary male characters.
Now for the negatives; the female characters were horrid. ALL THREE OF THEM. It is blaringly obvious by the writing style that East of Desolation was originally published in 1968. These women where undeveloped and the epitome of every negative female cliché. Here are their descriptions:
1. simple, round, gullible and hopelessly devoted to a manwhore
2. stunningly beautiful, manipulative, and just down right evil
3. oddly attractive, cruel, intent on being the center of attention, high maintenance, and whiny
Not a single one of them had any redeemable quality, and I was quite pissed that one of them was a love interest for Joe. There was no real romantic connection because how can you make a down-to-earth guy work with any of these women? They were only there to push the story along, and I would have enjoyed East of Desolation much more if they had been left out completely.
East of Desolation is a decent book. Higgins drew me in with the over the top male characters, interesting mystery, and beautiful setting. It is worth a read if you find this type of thriller interesting, but you may want to steer clear if you expect substantial and well developed female characters.
Are you a Jack Higgins fan? These last two posts have me wanting to do some cold weather flying!