Frozen Solid: A Novel

Frozen Solid: A Novel

by James Tabor

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The most dangerous place on Earth
A devious and deadly plan to save humanity from itself
A lone scientist battling the clock and ruthless enemies to avert global catastrophe
The Deep Zone was hailed as “an absolutely phenomenal read by the new Michael Crichton” (Brad Thor), a book that “should come shrink-wrapped with a seat belt” (Steve Berry). Now, bestselling author James M. Tabor ups the ante and the action in his second extreme thriller, as brilliant and battle-tested heroine Hallie Leland confronts intrigue and murder in the most unforgiving place on Earth.
The South Pole’s Amundsen Scott Research Station is like an outpost on Mars.  Winter temperatures average 100 degrees below zero; week-long hurricane-force storms rage; for eight months at a time the station is shrouded in darkness. Under the stress, bodies suffer and minds twist. Panic, paranoia, and hostility prevail. 
When a South Pole scientist dies mysteriously, CDC microbiologist Hallie Leland arrives to complete crucial research. Before she can begin, three more women inexplicably die. As failing communications and plunging temperatures cut the station off from the outside world, terror rises and tensions soar. Amidst it all, Hallie must crack the mystery of her predecessor’s death.
In Washington, D.C., government agency director Don Barnard and enigmatic operative Wil Bowman detect troubling signs of shadowy behavior at the South Pole and realize that Hallie is at the heart of it. Unless Barnard and Bowman can track down the mastermind, a horrifying act of global terror, launched from the station, will change the planet forever—and Hallie herself will be the unwitting instrument of destruction.
As the Antarctic winter sweeps in, severing contact with the outside world, Hallie must trust no one, fear everyone, and fight to keep the frigid prison from becoming her frozen grave.

Praise for Frozen Solid
The Andromeda Strain meets The Thing. Effectively blending horror with the science thriller, Tabor keeps readers on edge from beginning to end.”—Booklist
“We can’t get enough of mad scientist cabals who want to take over the world with the power of genetic engineering.”—io9
“A taut page-turner . . . Tabor’s not the first genre writer to take advantage of the forbidding conditions at the South Pole, but few have done so to better effect.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A fine thriller.”—Kirkus Reviews
“As you read this chilling novel it won’t be the frigid setting that sends tremors up your spine but rather the dark premise of this horrifying and engrossing story.”—
“A fast-paced, visceral thriller with a likeable heroine and some stellar high-stakes action sequences.”—
“The suspense was never-ending. . . . [There’s a] heart-stopping build-up towards the ending.”—Books4Tomorrow

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345538857
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/26/2013
Series: Hallie Leland , #2
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 214,945
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

James M. Tabor is the bestselling author of The Deep Zone, Blind Descent, and Forever on the Mountain and a winner of the O. Henry Award for short fiction. A former Washington, D.C., police officer and a lifelong adventure enthusiast, Tabor has written for Time, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Outside magazine, where he was a contributing editor. He wrote and hosted the PBS series The Great Outdoors and was co-creator and executive producer of the History Channel’s Journey to the Center of the World. He lives in Vermont, where he is at work on his next novel.

Read an Excerpt


Setting up its final approach, the C-130 pitched nose down and snapped into a thirty-degree bank, giving Hallie Leland a sudden view of what lay below. It was the second Monday in February at the South Pole, just past noon and dark. Two streaks of light, thin and red as fresh incisions, defined the runway. Half a mile distant, the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station appeared to float in a glowing pool. The air here was clear as polished glass, red and white and gold lights sparkling jewel-sharp a full mile below.

“Pilot having a bad day?” Hallie yelled at the loadmaster, the only other passenger. Glum and silent, he had spent the flight reading an old issue of People magazine. The peace had been unexpected and much appreciated. She’d been traveling for four straight days and nights, and her need for sleep was like a desperate thirst. But the aircraft was designed for cargo, not comfort. Her seat was nylon webbing that hung, hammock-like, along the entire length of the fuselage, and four roaring engines made seeking sleep like trying to doze behind a waterfall. So for most of the flight’s three hours she’d alternately revisited the bad parting from Wil Bowman at Dulles and tried to visualize diving a subglacial lake with twenty-two-degree water--her primary reason for coming here.

“Just a little fun.” A bit more cheer in the loadmaster’s voice. “It gets boring, flying McMurdo to Pole and back. Plus, if he goes in, there’s just them up front and us two back here. Know what I mean?”

She wasn’t sure she did. But she was watching, down on the ice, a clump of white light break into jittering pinpoints. “What’s that?”

“There’s a Polie saying: ‘Two best days of your life are the one you fly in and the one you fly out.’ Lot of happy flyouts down there.” He peered at her. “We don’t usually get incomers this late. You a winterover?”

“Looks like you’ll be full heading back to McMurdo.”

“Tell me about it.”

“You don’t sound happy.”

“Most’ll be drunk before they get on. Always a lot of throwing up and fistfights and such.”

“Drunk? It’s noon.”

He looked at her. “First time down here?”

The cowboy up front could fly, Hallie gave him that. She barely felt the Herc’s steel skis kiss the ice, no easy trick with sixty tons in the scant air of thirteen thousand feet. The plane taxied, stopped, lowered its cargo ramp. She paused at the top to don a face mask and pull up her fur-trimmed hood.

“I wouldn’t linger, ma’am. They’ll run you right over.” Beside her, the loadmaster gestured toward the mob down on the ice.

“Sorry. You don’t see that every day, though,” she said, looking up at the southern lights, unfurling like green and purple pennants across the black sky.

He frowned, hunched his shoulders. “Not supposed to look that way at noon.”

On the ice, a wall of bodies in black parkas blocked her way, faces hidden behind fur ruffs, headlamps on top, fog of liquor breath. The pack shuffled and stamped like horses at her family’s farm in Charlottesville.

“Coming through, please,” Hallie called.

“ . . . come through you,” somebody slurred, and a few people laughed, but nobody moved. She walked around them. The loadmaster yelled, “Board!” and jumped aside like a man dodging traffic. Eventually, he dragged her two orange duffel bags down onto the ice.

“Welcome to hell froze over, ma’am. Enjoy your stay!” the loadmaster exclaimed. It was the first time she had heard anything resembling good cheer in his voice.

“How come you’re happy now?” she yelled.

“Ma’am, ’cause I’m flying outta here.”

She watched the plane claw its way back into the thin air, turn toward McMurdo, and then she was alone on the ice. She had never been in a place that looked and felt so hard. The sky shone like a dome of polished onyx etched with the white flecks of stars. The ice could have been purple marble, scalloped into sastrugi. The wind was blowing twenty miles an hour, mild for the Pole, where a thousand-mile fetch delivered hurricane winds all too often.

A digital thermometer hanging from one zipper pull read sixty-eight degrees below zero. The windchill dropped that to about one hundred below. She had heard firefighters describe fire as a living, hungry thing. This cold was like that, seeping through her seven layers of clothing, attacking seams and zipper tracks and spots of thin insulation. The exposed skin on her face felt as if it had been touched with lit cigarettes.

It occurred to her that she could die right here where she had deplaned, with the station in plain sight. She decided that all the sages were wrong about hell. It would not be fire. It would be like this. Cold, dark, dead. She rotated 360 degrees, saw nothing but the station. In this pristine air it looked closer than a half mile, but she knew the distance from maps at McMurdo. She kicked the ice, scarred and dusted with chips like a hockey rink after a game. Her head felt light and airy; silver sparks danced in her vision. Her ears were ringing, she was nauseated and short of breath, and her heart was pounding. Altitude, Antarctic cold, exhaustion--and she had just arrived.

She had brought her own dive gear, and each duffel weighed forty pounds. At this temperature, the ice was like frozen sand. Dragging the bags was going to hurt. She had made this trip on short notice--no notice, really, for such was the life of a BARDA/CDC field investigator. But it was still bad form, she thought, letting a guest freeze to death out here.

“Let’s go, then,” she said. Inside four layers of gloves and mittens, her hands were numbing already. She managed to grab the bags’ end straps and headed for the station, hauling one with each arm. It was like trudging through deep mud--at altitude. After thirty steps she stopped, lungs heaving, muscles burning, body cursing brain for making it do this mule work. The station seemed to have receded, as if she were drifting away from it on an ice floe in black water, like Victor Frankenstein’s pathetic monster.

She looked up and saw a light detach from the distant glow and dance toward her. Several minutes later, the snowmobile slewed to an ice-spraying stop. Its operator was about the diameter of a barrel and not much taller. He was all in black, right down to his boots. She kept her headlamp trained on his chest to avoid blinding him.

“It was getting cold out here. I didn’t expect a marching band, but--”

“Honey, you ain’t seen cold.” Hoarse, but definitely not a him. Woman with an Australian accent. “Graeter said you were supposed to come tomorrow. Lucky for you, the pilot radioed about an incoming.”


“Station manager. Think you can grab maybe one bag?” Hallie heard condescension, irritation, or a combination. She dumped both duffels onto the orange cargo sled.

“So why are you here? Nobody ever comes early for winterover,” the woman said. She sounded angry, though Hallie was hard-pressed to understand why. Chronic ire of the short? But then, going from cozy station to one hundred below for some clueless stranger could do it, too. A coughing fit left the woman gasping. She straightened, breathed in gingerly.

“That sounded bad,” Hallie said. “Bronchitis?”

“Pole cold. Don’t worry, you’ll get it. So are you a winterover?”

The woman got on the snowmobile and motioned for Hallie to sit behind her. The wind had picked up. “Does it always blow like this?” Hallie asked.


“That’s good.”

“What I meant, it’s usually stronger.”

Before she gunned the engine, the woman peered over her shoulder at Hallie. “I got it. You’re replacing that Beaker who died, right? What’s-her-name.”

“Her name was Emily Durant,” Hallie said.

Customer Reviews

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Frozen Solid 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
tpolen More than 1 year ago
This book was like a combination of Douglas Preston and Michael Crichton - a lot of intense action with some science added to the mix - and I was captivated from the first page. At times I was holding my breath because of the dangerous situations Hallie found herself in or, being slightly claustrophobic, I couldn't get enough air in others. The author either did extensive research or is an experienced climber and diver - either way, I learned a good bit about both and it helped in better visualization of the scenes. Hallie is a very strong, intelligent, and opinionated female protagonist and didn't back down from any situation. Thrown into a very difficult situation after learning the truth about the death of her colleague, Hallie is unsure who to trust, if anyone. The only problem I came across was, at one point in the book, due to the environment and other circumstances beyond her control, Hallie became disoriented and physically ill, but soon after, seemed miraculously cured and regained total clarity, with no explanation. If you can overlook that, the book is a good read for anyone who enjoys action/adventure thrillers. This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher.
sjthszn More than 1 year ago
I was intrigued by the locked house murder mystery set up of this book, but sorely disappointed in the payoff.  The setting - frozen tundra of the south pole - made for some interesting situations, but some of the scenes were entirely unbelievable.  I understand it's not supposed to be a true story, but am I really to believe that the main character can survive when her dive suit fails in the freezing arctic waters?  And the big scary diabolical plot behind all the mayhem just didn't work for me.  I received this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Books4Tomorrow More than 1 year ago
Frozen Solid is the first book ever I’ve read by this author. Whilst it is an action-packed thriller saturated with suspense, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. It just felt as though the story never took off – like sitting in a bus, feeling it slowly accelerating to about five miles an hour and then slowly decelerating again to come to a halt. That’s what it felt like reading this novel. I still had many unanswered questions left once I got to the end of it. Some of the things that made this a less-than-great read for me, include the technical- and scientific jargon the author uses throughout the story without any simple explanations for readers like me who have a limited knowledge of science. Also, the constant jumps between points of view and abrupt transitioning between scenes and chapters, made me lose track of the plot more than once. One example of this is when the main character, Hallie Leland, is running in her wetsuit towards safety, but is slowly getting frozen and stuck in the ice. She gives up, stops fighting the cold, and resigns herself to await her inevitable demise. Chapter ends. Start of next chapter, first line, she’s standing in her superior’s office, safe and sound, and explains to him how she got there. Such sudden leaps between scenes are frequent all through the book. By the end I had a pretty good idea what the crux of the story was, but I didn’t exactly understand how everything came together to form the conclusion.  The world-building was done quite well and I could easily imagine the extreme cold the characters had to endure, but in stark contrast, the characters weren’t fleshed out enough for me to feel anything for them, even though a lot of lengthy explanations and dialogue are used.   Although the story was at times dragging along, the suspense was never-ending. There’s a lot to be said for an author whose writing is so engaging – long-winded descriptions and all - it kept me reading into the early hours of the morning. My favorite parts which kept me glued to the pages were the ones in which discoveries were made, the times Hallie spent underwater below the ice, the time she went down into “Old Pole”, and the nerve-wracking scene in which she saved two of her fellow colleagues who fell through the ice. These scenes, and the heart-stopping build-up towards the ending, is why I’m giving Frozen Solid a three-star rating and am recommending it to hardcore readers of the thriller and mystery genres. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good thriller...but not great. Tabor's first book Deep Zone grabbed the reader and didn't let go. This one, not so much. I had trouble keeping track of the characters I think because 5 of them had names starting with the letter G. There was also a lot of redundancy that was off-putting. Almost like the writer was trying to force the book into extra pages. What I learned was the South Pole is very cold and not a vacation spot for anyone sane. Jp
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tabor's ability to capture the physicality of place is amazing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Prey was one of my favorite books ever and this one almost beat it. But I dis like the story line and suspense. Thank you for being an author. I appreciate your talent and enjoy reading your books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I said North Pole when I meant to say South Pole in my review.
JennMcLean More than 1 year ago
Hallie Leland, a microbiologist, is contracted to fill in for her friend who just died at a research station in the Antarctica. When Hallie arrives she realizes that there is more danger than just the climate. She feels thwarted at every turn and when she uncovers that a hidden group of scientists who call themselves Triage is planning something sinister she wonders as other people are dying around her, if her life is in danger. Because she is so isolated Hallie feels she has nowhere to turn. She only has a few days to try and solve the murder of her friend and figure out what’s happening before winter-over, if she doesn’t get out soon she’ll be stuck there until next spring. I have never read this author and I understand there is another Hallie Leland book before this one. I think I may have enjoyed this one more if I'd read that one first. Although I found a few of the details about Antarctica a little suspect I did enjoy this book. I have read some medical thrillers and I do love medical shows on Television so it is in my wheelhouse. I guess I just wish there was more medical stuff in it. The action and pace was excellent along with the author's creation of the character Hallie. I loved her attitude and proficiency. I do find it annoying when women characters are written to be weak so with Hallie's character I was really pleasantly surprised. She solved her own problems and didn't whine about the situations she found herself in. She came off as capable and resourceful. The author also did a terrific job of making the reader feel what it would be like to be in such a cold and desolate place. I shivered many times as I soaked up the atmospheric nature of the base Hallie was posted at. I felt how frightening it would be to be trapped so far from civilization and knowing there was a murder somewhere out there. The main thing that lowered my liking of this book was the haphazard, scattered writing in the first half of the book. One reviewer said it reminded her of when you're talking to an elderly uncle and he goes off on tangents then returns to what he was talking about. This took away some of the enjoyment of the book for me and therefore I'm giving it a three star rating.
Andrew_of_Dunedin More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed Juris Jurjevics's “The Trudeau Vector”, which featured a mysterious killer in an Arctic research facility. I liked Dan Brown's Inferno, which looked at the possibility of someone attempting to unleash a biological “solution” to the problem of overpopulation. Put the two together, and you have James Tabor's “Frozen Solid”. I enjoyed Mr. Tabor's look at a murderer loose in an Antarctic research facility, while some sort of unauthorized (and secret to all but a few – most people can read between the lines here) research into disease vectors among humans. The characters seemed real to me, and mostly likeable, and the setting was certainly unique and necessary to the plot – both are aspects of a book that I expect to find and am disappointed when I don't. However … it was disappointing – not because of anything that Mr. Tabor did or didn't do, BUT because due to the luck of the draw of my earlier reading, I'd felt like I'd been there before. Still, I'm not penalizing his rating for this – fact is, I did like the book, and would have liked it even more had the main plot aspects not already been covered in my earlier reading. RATING: 4 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
a good whosedoingit
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this very is a good story and has an interesting plot
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Of love lost in ice"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To be honest, it is difficult to enthusiastically review anything on this site. Just take a look at all the off topic "reviews" posted for just about any book. I am increasingly of the belief that both the Nook and this site are an absolute waste of time for anyone truly interested in reading....but I digress. This was a relatively good read. The restrictive location added interest. True, some aspects of the Pole were not technically accurate, but the author acknowledges that he took artistic license. (And, really, what speculative fiction does not do so?) Bottom line? This book was good enough that I would read another by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You've been accepted! Welcome to the Nebula. Our HQ is at 'celestial pool'. It's OOC, but you can RP through it all if you like. You'd be our tenth member.
25roses More than 1 year ago
This was action and science in the extreme cold.  I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who likes action, adventure, and thrillers.  Grab a hot cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate and enjoy a wonderful story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Some of the scenes leave you wondering if you are reading James Rollins
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be tedious and amateurishly written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hadn't checked to see if someone was kind enough to enlighten me on my request about the ?mark.It actually brought a tear to my eyes to think that you people took your time to respond and then some(the thing about the heart,when you said Step1-press, press what?)don't mean to sound pushy but I really want to learn!! Thanks again,from the bottom of my HEART(: Granny B.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Average thriller, enjoyable read
BuriedUnderBooks More than 1 year ago
As much as I don’t like, i.e., really don’t like cold weather, I’m inexplicably drawn to books set in very cold regions and, since this one takes place at the South Pole, I was automatically interested. I also love science-related thrillers so I was really on board with this one. I’m very happy to say I was not disappointed in the least. When Hallie Leland arrives at the research station, it’s supposed to be a temporary assignment—finish the work of her predecessor who died and get out in less than a week, before all travel shuts down for the winter. The work involves diving into a lake under the ice and retrieving samples of a lifeform called an extremophile, code-named Vishnu, that seems to have properties that could stop global warming. The scientist who had died, apparently by suicide, was Emily Durant, a friend of Hallie’s, and Hallie has trouble believing Emily killed herself. Before her first day is done, other women begin dying in horrific ways and it becomes even more crucial for Hallie to figure out what happened to Emily. While all that is going on, Hallie’s friends in Washington, Wil Bowman and Don Barnard, are picking up on signs that a major terrorist event linked to the research station and Hallie’s work may be about to happen. She’s pretty much on her own, however, because there isn’t enough time for anyone to fly into the station before the winter shutdown. Mr. Tabor has a strong hand with plot development but I was even more taken with the characters, both good and bad, and I love that the central figure here is a woman who is intelligent and physically fit but also aware of her vulnerabilities without being weak. I also appreciated the fact that the bad guys she’s dealing with are not obviously the bad guys. The plot device that sticks in my mind the most is a trek that Hallie has to make from an outbuilding to the main structure; it really brought home the dangers of such a forbidding environment. There was one stylistic thing I wasn’t crazy about—a scene ends on a climactic note, the next scene has the person explaining how they escaped (example: when Hallie’s suit freezes up while she’s outside). I’d rather see the person escape than be told about it after the fact. Other than that, I couldn’t stop turning the pages and was hurrying to find out how this would all end but also rather sad when I’d finished. The science may—probably does—have some gaps but details such as what the temperatures and the enforced isolation can do are compelling. The South Pole is the setting but is also a major character. One last note, a warning actually—don’t read the Kirkus review if you can avoid it as it’s full of spoilers and you’ll miss out on a lot of the tension and fun. In the meantime, I’m off to find the first Hallie Leland book, The Deep Zone, while I wait for the next one.