Whiteout by Greg Rucka – Review


Book Jacket:

You can’t get any further down than the bottom of the world – Antarctica. Cold, desolate, nothing but ice and snow for miles and miles. Carrie Stetko is a U.S. Marshal, and she’s made The Ice her home. In its vastness, she has found a place where she can forget her troubled past and feel at peace…. Until someone commits a murder in her jurisdiction and that peace is shattered. The murderer is one of five men scattered across the continent, and he has more reason to hide than just the slaying. Several ice samples were taken from the area around the body, and the depth of the drilling signifies something particular was removed. Enter Lily Sharpe, who wants to know what was so important another man’s life had to be taken for it. But are either of the women prepared for the secrets and betrayals at the core of the situation?

You can read an excerpt here.


Even in our internet day and age, there are still movies I had no idea were based on comic books – Road to Perdition being one of them – and I honestly didn’t realize (until perusing the graphic novel section of my library one day) that the random eponymous Kate Beckinsale movie that came out a few years ago was in fact based on a graphic novel by Greg Rucka – and as it turns out, that same book was actually his first foray into the world of comics. Now, if you’re not familiar with Greg Rucka – he’s a Big Name in comics these days, having planted his flag atop many a franchise hill, most noticeably in the world of Batman – than this is an excellent place to start. Whiteout is a rock-solid crime story, short and sweet – and frankly it’s easy to see how this book launched Rucka’s career. I also think Whiteout can make for a lovely introduction to the world of comics for any reader who might be a bit dubious about the genre altogether – if they enjoy a good crime story, that is. Plus, even having only seen the trailers for that Kate Beckinsale movie, I can say without a doubt, this book is better than the movie.

First and foremost, the secret to Whiteout‘s success is without question its phenomenal setting. The way Lieber’s art is able to capture both the vast, wide-open loneliness of the bottom of the world, and the cramped, claustrophobic living quarters of the people living there, huddled together, virtual prisoners to nature’s terrible might – it’s just out and out breathtaking. And where death and danger is so often drawn in darkness, in shadow, here Lieber has to create that tension in pure white – I’ve never seen so much white – and he succeeds, brilliantly. And the way Rucka brings home the matter-of-fact reality of living inches from frozen death, and the all-too-cramped familiarity that comes from living in what is essentially the smallest of small towns – it really just makes the perfect recipe for a thriller. Because when you’re trapped in a place where what’s outside will kill you, but what’s inside might be worse… Well, it’s downright mesmerizing.

As for our heroine, Carrie Stetko, true she might remind you of many a tough female detective from various UK and Swedish crime dramas – you know, she of the tough, gruff demeanor, who wrestles privately with inner demons – but even so, I loved her. Carrie’s rough around the edges, believably stoic, and determinedly steadfast in her search for the killer – despite being totally and utterly on her own, seeing as she’s pretty much literally the only cop within a thousand miles. And by the way, she’s entirely unarmed – because according to the Antarctic treaty, guns aren’t allowed. But all in all, I was just constantly amazed by the sheer amount of character detail Rucka and Lieber were able to pack in, in such a short amount of space. It’s just sheer talent on display.

Now as for the plot, I thought it was capable and entertaining – but I did find myself wishing it had been given just a bit more room to grow, for a few more twists and turns (though really I can’t blame the story for being what it is – a comic, with all the inherent length restraints thereof). But still, this story is brilliantly rife with tension, and I was genuinely surprised by how it all turned out – and by just how much emotional punch that final reveal had. All in all, this is a tight little mystery, one that makes for a quick and satisfying read.

So in the end, really this is just a good book – and one that I think that helps reminds us, the world of comics was never meant to be for superheroes alone.

Byrt Grade: A

As Levar Burton would say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Blogcritics says:

Rucka delivers a solid detective story. While not groundbreaking, it is certainly a well-crafted Whodunit, keeping the suspense up without losing credibility. It is, however, Rucka’s attention to detail that makes this a winner: his solid research on Antarctica, crisp and reliable dialogue, and believable characters.

Geeks of Doom say:

These are definitely worth your time, and as with many of Rucka’s comic book works, you need not be a comics aficionado to appreciate them.