From the Publisher
“Quickly paced, imaginatively detailed, and highly atmospheric, Beck's novel is an entertaining mix of thriller, horror, fantasy, and science fiction.... A fun read that offers plenty of thrills and hints at a new action-adventure hero in the making.” Library Journal
Library Journal - BookSmack!
It is always nice to discover a first novel, then learn it is the first in a projected series. When the book is an all-out romp, the kind of vacation reading one only really gets time for at the beach or during the winter holiday, it's even better. Quickly paced, imaginatively detailed, and highly atmospheric, Beck's novel is an entertaining mix of thriller, horror, fantasy, and science fiction. Capt. Alex Hunter, leader of the HAWCs commando team and a man made nearly superhuman by a bullet lodged in the center of his brain, takes a team of experts beneath the Antarctic ice in search of two missing parties: the possible survivors of a plane crash and the rescue team of medics and scientists who went looking for them. Both groups have disappeared, leaving nothing behind—no blood, no bodies, and no sign of struggle. Hunter's team enters the vast ice caves revealed by the plane's impact crater and discovers a world protected for hundreds of millions of years from extinction events. Suddenly, they are at the bottom of the food chain, trapped miles beneath the surface, with only the fragmented story of a lost civilization left behind on ancient ruins to help them navigate the dark and very real monsters lurking in the deep. Add some evil post-Soviet soldiers, lots of Jurassic lost-world action, and even a bit of the mystery behind the lost colony of Roanoke, and the result is a fun read that offers plenty of thrills and hints at a new action-adventure hero in the making. — Neal Wyatt, "RA Crossroads," Booksmack! 1/6/11
Read an Excerpt
Antarctica, Present Day
In the final seconds before impact, John “Buck” Banyon, arguably one of the wealthiest hotel owners in North America, released the U-shaped steering column. He folded his large arms over his chest, obscuring the hand-stitched, gold lettering across a bomber jacket that simply read “Buck.” He knew he was as good as dead as soon as the engine restart had failed and all the other backup systems which had at first gone crazy winked out one by one. There was no time now for another restart and bailing out was a joke in this weather. He snorted at the white-filled cockpit screen and whispered a final “fuck it,” as the altimeter told him the ground was just about in his face.
Banyon had invited his senior executive team and their wives or lovers on a reward-for-service flight in his private jet, the Perseus—a one-day flight out of southern Australia over the Antarctic. He had made the trip several times alone and this time he hoped to show his young Turks that there was more to Buck Banyon than making money and eighteen-hour days. There was such rare and exotic beauty here; you could keep your wildlife colonies—he could see a fucking penguin at the zoo any day. But down here he had seen things only a handful of people on earth had witnessed: rare green sunsets where the sun hovered at the horizon for hours and a band of emerald flashed out between ice and sky; floating ice mountains caused by the stillness of the air creating the mirage of an ice peak which seemed to lift off and hover hundreds of feet above the ground.
He should have known better; you fall in love with the Antarctic and she’ll hurt you. Buck had forgotten one thing; she was as beautiful as she was unpredictable. Even though he had checked the meteorology ser vice before leaving, the icy continent had surprised him with a monstrous katabatic flow jump. She hid them behind mountains and deep crevices; and then when you were close enough she revealed them in all their ferocious power—mile-high walls of snow and wind and fury that climbed rapidly over a rise in the landscape.
Light that was once so clean and clear you could see for hundreds of miles in all directions suddenly became confused and scattered by rushing snow and ice. The result was a freezing whiteout where the sky and the ground became one and there was no more horizon. In seconds, temperatures dropped by a hundred degrees and winds jumped by that amount again. A rule book didn’t exist for what to do when you were caught within one; you just avoided them—and once inside them, a plane just ceased to exist.
Buck’s ten passengers were not as calm as he was; the cacophony from the main cabin resembled something from one of Dante’s stories on the torments of hell. Martinis and cocktails were voided onto the plush velvet seats which the passengers were crushed back into as they felt the combination of velocity and steep descent.
The seventy-foot white dart fell at roughly 500 miles per hour towards the Antarctic ice on a terminal pitch; its small but powerful turbofan jets had ceased to function in the blasting icy air above the blinding white landscape. As it plummeted towards the desolate ice plains below it was all but silent, save for a high-pitched whistling that could have been mistaken for a lost snow petrel calling to its fellow wanderers. This too vanished in the louder scream of the ferocious katabatic storm pummelling the skin of the sleek metal bird.
The initial impact, when it came, was more like the sound of a giant pillow striking an unmade bed than the metallic explosive noise of 30,000 pounds of metal impacting on a hard surface. A funnel-shaped plume of snow and ice was blown a hundred feet into the air, followed by a secondary spout of rock, debris and a hollow boom as the once sleek Challenger jet at last struck solid stone. The plane penetrated the ice surface like a bullet through glass, opening a ragged black hole into a cavern hundreds of feet below. The echoes of the impact reverberated down into the tunnels for miles, bouncing off walls and ceilings as the silent stone caught and then transferred the terrible sounds of the collision.
Silence once more returned to this subterranean world—but only briefly.
The creature lifted itself from the water and sampled the air. The vibrations from the high caverns drew forth a race memory dormant for generations as it dragged itself from its primordial lair in confusion. In its darkened world it had long learned to be silent, but the noises and vibrations from the ceiling caverns excited it and it rushed towards the high caves, making a sound like a river of boiling mud.
It would take hours for it to reach the crash site, but already it could detect the faint smell of molten alloy, fuel and something else—something none of its kind had sensed in many millennia. It moved its great mucous-covered bulk forward quickly, hunger now driving it onwards.
Excerpted from Beneath the Dark Ice by Greig Beck.
Copyright © 2009 by Greig Beck.
Published in September 2010 by St. Martin’s Paperbacks.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.