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Beneath the Dark Ice: A Novel

Beneath the Dark Ice: A Novel

4.2 48
by Greig Beck

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From debut thriller author Greig Beck comes Beneath the Ice, a mix of the scientific and the supernatural ...

When a plane crashes into the Antarctic ice, exposing an enormous cave system, a rescue and research team is dispatched. Twenty-four hours later, all contact is lost.

Captain Alex Hunter and his highly trained commandos,


From debut thriller author Greig Beck comes Beneath the Ice, a mix of the scientific and the supernatural ...

When a plane crashes into the Antarctic ice, exposing an enormous cave system, a rescue and research team is dispatched. Twenty-four hours later, all contact is lost.

Captain Alex Hunter and his highly trained commandos, along with a team of scientists, are fast tracked to the hot zone to find out what went wrong. Meanwhile, the alluring petrobiologist Aimee Weir is sent to follow up on the detection of a vast underground reservoir. If the unidentified substance proves to be oil, every country in the world will want to know about it—even wage war over it. Or worse.

Once suspended into the caves, Alex, Aimee, and the others can't locate a single survivor—or even a trace of their remains. Nor is there a energy source, only specters of the dead haunting the tunnels. But soon they will discover that something very much alive is brewing beneath the surface. It is a force that dates back to the very dawn of time—an ancient terror that hunts and kills to survive…

Editorial Reviews

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

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
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Alex Hunter Series
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Read an Excerpt

Beneath the Dark Ice

By Greig Beck

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2009 Greig Beck
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-2930-1


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 service 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.


Stamford, Connecticut

A band of warm Connecticut sunshine bathed Aimee Weir as she sipped her drink and looked up from her latest project results to stare evenly at her co-worker. With jet black hair and soft blue eyes, Aimee lived up to her Scottish bloodline. She was the first of her family of shopkeepers and boat builders to become a scientist, and her brilliance in the field of fossil fuel synthesis made her a sought-after commodity by resource-hungry corporations around the world. She was a tall woman of twenty-nine, with a way of setting her jaw and making her eyes go from soft to piercing that her friends referred to as the "Weir lasers." She was able to stare down the most fearsome university faculty or boardroom member and when push came to shove, she usually got her way. She finished her soda and directed that stare at Tom now.

"It won't do any good, Aimee; I'm not even going to look at you. I don't need to be blinded so early in the morning." Tom chuckled and continued to pour himself a coffee. Aimee could tell he knew she was looking at him and guessed he was playing it cool, hoping she would just blow off some steam for a while before giving him her blessing to go on the field trip. Tom stirred his cup noisily and continued, "Besides, I know you hate heights and we have to ropesail or something down into a frozen cave on, or rather I should say under, the Antarctic ice."

"Ha! It's called 'abseiling' or 'rappelling.' There is no such word as 'ropesailing.' And that heights thing happened a long time ago. It's not a phobia, Tom."

Tom sipped his coffee, making an exaggerated slurping sound. Aimee mouthed OK then, to his back. She tore a small fragment of paper from her computer printout and rolled it into a ball which she popped into her mouth, working it around a little more with her tongue. She lifted the straw from the small bottle and placed it in her mouth, took aim and fired the wet projectile at the back of Tom's head. Satisfyingly, it stuck to his neck.

"Yee-uck. I hate it when you do that." Tom wiped his neck with his hand and turned around. Aimee sat smiling with her left eyebrow raised and the straw dangling from her bottom lip.

She had known Tom for ten years, ever since he had been at her university spotting on behalf of his company. Even as a gangly, or as her father said "coltish," nineteen-year-old, her grades and natural scientific talent in the areas of biology and biogenic decomposition made her stand out from a crowded and impressive field. Her potential was a magnet to companies looking for the most valuable of corporate assets: intelligence. Tom had made her laugh till tears ran down her cheeks and humanised science more than any dry professor ever had. He was like an older brother and could still make her laugh today like that kid at university a decade ago, yet over the years he had looked out for her and guided her career and now she was one of the most respected petrobiologists in the world.

Tom Hendsen was the lead scientist working for GBR, a small research company that specialised in geological and biological research into fossil fuels, their discovery, use, synthesis and hopefully one day, replacement. He was forty, slim and tall, with an easy laugh. Though they all had an informal working relationship within GBR he was the natural leader due to his maturity and encyclopedic knowledge of deep earth petrobiology.

Aimee loved Tom, but as with all sibling relationships there were flare-ups — rare, but they happened; just like now. Tom had been urgently requested by the government to accompany a rescue mission to the Antarctic. A private jet had gone down on the ice, or rather, through the ice. A large cavern had been opened up and initial data received indicated a large body of mid-crust liquid that could be surface petroleum and natural gas. It was probably nothing more than screwy data or some illegal dumping ground used by the numerous nations that visited the Antarctic for everything from research to mining — nations that eyed the continent hungrily as the last great unexplored, or rather unravaged, continent on earth. However, it could also be something significant; the Antarctic wasn't always covered in snow and ice and about 150 million years before, when Gondwana began to break up, what was now the Antarctic coalesced around the South Pole. A number of species of dinosaur were known to have existed and the lush plant life became dominated by fern-like plants which grew in swamps. Over time these swamps became deposits of coal in the Transantarctic Mountains and could have decomposed into reservoirs of oil below them.

"But you hate the cold, and you don't like field work. I'm more than qualified to at least assist you down there." Aimee hated the whining tone creeping into her voice. She knew Tom was the best person to go, but she had been working on her current project now for eighteen months and was looking for any sort of interesting diversion — and this sounded like just the sort of thing that she'd like to do.

"Aimee, someone has got to front the board on Wednesday and discuss our results on the viability models for synthetic fuel production or we won't get the additional funding," Tom responded in his most patient tone. "You know you're better than I am at twisting those board members around your little finger." Aimee could tell Tom was deliberately flattering her and she gave him a fake "gosh, thanks" smile.

"I'll be back in a week, probably with little more than a cold to show for it," he said without looking up from his packing. "I'll take some electromagnetic readings and map the near-surface alteration effects of any hydrocarbon migration and then we can turn the results into some nice 3D models for our friends in the boardroom."

"Well, make sure you use plenty of colour and description and lose all the jargon or you might as well show them pictures of your auntie's knitting for all those board members will understand," Aimee responded half-jokingly, knowing Tom was the best in the business at making complex subjects easy to understand and accessible to even the dullest bureaucrat. "And bring me back some snow."

"I'll bring you a penguin, no two, to make a pair of slippers," he said, both of them now laughing at their silliness.

Her eyes had once more returned to the soft Aimee blue. As usual he had managed to disarm her with a sense of humour that was more at home in a schoolyard than a laboratory. Knowing Tom, he'd spend his time in the tent hunched over his computer and be cold and bored by the end of the first day.

Next time, she thought, it would be her turn, no question about it.


Australian East Coast

Alex Hunter walked from the warm seawater after his dawn swim; it was his favourite time of the day — with the screeching of the gulls as they circled overhead and the shushing of the surf as it crashed onto the golden beach. The sea mist blew gently across his face as his grey-green eyes scanned the horizon. He closed them briefly and drew in a large breath to totally absorb the smells of his world.

After an hour of hard swimming he wasn't even breathing hard. At thirty-six years old and just over six feet tall his body was lean but strongly muscled across the arms and chest, representative of someone who trained vigorously and often. However, numerous scars attested to the fact this was no frame created in a gymnasium, but one that was hewn in and for battle. Alex shook his head from side to side and then dragged his hand through his short black hair. His square jaw and angular cheeks ensured there was no shortage of female attention, however, a complex and dangerous lifestyle meant there could never be any permanence to his relationships. Alex had been trained to win, to fight and succeed no matter what the odds, but there were some things that he felt were beyond even his capabilities. He could never settle down, could never describe his work, and could never share his success and failures with anyone other than his military peers. And now, following his field accident, he was more alone than ever.

Like a bronze statue Alex stood motionless on the sand, hands tightly gripping a faded beach towel; his eyes became lifeless chips of glass as he travelled in his head back to a life that now seemed to belong to someone else. Angie was gone, she was already leaving him before his last mission but had promised she would wait and be there to talk to him when he returned; he never made it. He didn't think she had stopped loving him — just couldn't stop the worrying, he guessed. In the time they had together they had loved and laughed like teenagers, and even now little things about her still haunted him: her thick brown hair that always smelled of fresh green apples, the line of perspiration on her top lip after they had made love, her enormous brown eyes. She said he could make her blush and go tingly just by talking to her. They were going to be married, and now he couldn't even call her, he had ceased to exist. He had heard she was seeing some suit from Boston; she'd be OK.

His mother had been told he was dead, heaven knew when he would ever be authorised to tell her the truth. Since his father had been taken by a heart attack ten years ago she had quit her job and slowed right down; she swapped a job in advertising for flowers, vegetables, and games of bridge two nights a week. He could still see her on the front porch in late spring with her spoilt Alsatian, Jess, asleep at her feet, her paws twitching in a dream where snooty overweight Siamese cats tripped over right in front of her. Until he learned to control and conceal his new abilities, it wasn't safe for anybody to know he was alive.

Life had made Alex a strange trade, one where he had both gained and lost. The thick towel Alex was gripping tore in half; he hadn't realised that the pressure had been building within him.

His rehabilitation, if you could call it that, was complete. Two years ago on a clandestine search and rescue mission in northern Chechnya, Alex Hunter had been ambushed and shot in the head — a trauma that should have killed him. He had been in a death-like coma for two weeks and when he had emerged from hospital after another month he was different, somehow altered. The bullet was lodged deep within his cerebellum in the junction between his hypothalamus and thalamus, a position that made removal more manslaughter than surgery. However, instead of causing irreparable damage as it should have done, it had ignited a storm of both physical and mental changes that had astounded his doctors.

Alex remembered them trying to explain what had happened to him and their assumptions when some of his abilities had started to emerge. Even among the gathered specialists in his room there was debate on how the human midbrain functioned. Some argued that humans make use of less than half of their total brain functions, with the other significant portion locked away for evolution to make use of when environmental or chronological factors dictate they are ready. Others were just as adamant that the unused portions were an evolutionary remnant of no more use than the appendix or tonsils.


Excerpted from Beneath the Dark Ice by Greig Beck. Copyright © 2009 Greig Beck. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Greig Beck lives in Australia. Beneath the Dark Ice is his first novel.

Greig Beck grew up across the road from Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia. His early days were spent surfing, sunbaking and reading science fiction on the sand. He then went on to study computer science, immerse himself in the financial software industry and later received an MBA. Greig is the director of a software company but still finds time to write and surf. He lives in Vaucluse, Sydney with his wife, son and an enormous black German shepherd. He is the author of Beneath the Dark Ice and Dark Rising.

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Beneath the Dark Ice 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
Tunguz More than 1 year ago
An expedition, consisting of scientists and military personnel, is sent to Antarctic in order to explore potentially enormous reserves of oil. However, something goes wrong and a rescue operation is launched consisting of even more experiences and hardened special operations units and a handful of scientists. What they encounter is very shocking, dangerous and unusual, and it may be connected to the ancient evil described in many pre-Columbian American myths and legends. “Beneath the Dark Ice” is an entertaining and interesting thriller that combines the features of sci/tech genera, as well as all the elements of a good creature feature, with smatterings of geopolitical intrigue thrown in for a good measure. It is certainly a very interesting and somewhat original book, and will keep you intrigued till the end. However, in my mind what distinguishes a great thriller from just a very good one is the believability of the basic premises on which the plot hangs. And this is where “Beneath the Dark Ice” falls well short. You don’t have to have a Ph. D. in biology, ancient history, or even geology to know that many of the claims in this book are so ridiculously out of the sphere of what is possible, and these really put your suspension of disbelief to some severe tests. This is unfortunate, since I think that a much more reasonable set of parameters would have made this a truly great thriller. As it is, I think the author just went overboard with trying to incorporate too much in a single volume. It’s still a very good read, but there is enough material in here for at least two or three separate plotlines that in themself would have made very interesting novels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great and fast pace book. I like the idea of the native people and the way the piont of view sometimes is from the monster.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A huge thumbs up! I couldn't put it down. A very creative blend of characters and underground surprises. A must read for anyone that loves horror, suspense & gore with a touch of sci-fi. I'm looking forward to seeing more of Alex and Aimee in the future!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed both of Mr. Becks books. They are full of action and adventure without becoming bogged down in unnecessary military jargon or page after page of fighting. The characters are well developed and very likeable. My only critique might be that too many of the main characters died in both books. Otherwise, i recommend these books and am anxious for more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
what a wonderful book and plot. the Characters, everything was great. I am buying more of his books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the storyline of this book. Unfortunately, the book was not edited well. Sometimes, it makes it hard to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Drewano More than 1 year ago
This book was really well written and interesting. It’s a very original idea (both Alex’s situation and the premise) and played out well in the structure of the book. The characters are interesting and likable but for some reason I just couldn’t get into this book. Maybe it focused a little too much on the history aspect rather than adding more action or maybe I was just distracted while I tackled it but I just felt like it didn’t pull me in.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
IT was ok ,not as good as you think .a bit slow.not really worth the money.
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rscTN More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed how the tension slowly builds and takes you along for the journey thru the cave with all its tunnels and tribulations! Slow start but worth the trip...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting story but for some reason it didn't grab me like an Andy McDermott or Matt Reilly story does. Maybe I had a hard time with the super soldier concept, maybe too much monster. Nonetheless I'm planning to read the next in the series.
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Thrilladdict More than 1 year ago
Although some aspects are a little hard to swallow, if you take this book as just sheer entertainment and don't look too closely at whether certain things could actually take place, it's a great read. The author has a great imagination and describes places and events in marvelous detail. The science is far-fetched at best, but it's all good fun!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jonathan barnard More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book, i would have to say it was pretty original especially with the creatures in and out of the water. Super good read.