Hook: The valley that had no name ran between barren hills, a long mottled floor of gray and green covered with soldier moss, lichens and carpha grasses.
The viewpoint here is a cinematic scope. It is Jan. 16th at 1:15 p.m. and Nestor Masangkay has traveled 12,000 miles to find a mineral known as coesite. He has found the prize of a lifetime. Later, a stranger finds his remains at the spot of something metallic.
Sam McFarlane has gained the San Bushmen’s trust in pursuit of meteorite rock. A helicopter appears and he is left alone as a stranger approaches him. It’s Palmer Lloyd, the fourth richest man in the world. He tells McFarlane his former partner, Nestor, has died and he wants him to finish the project Nestor was working on. He’ll get $75,000 for 6 months work plus a lifetime job at Lloyd Museum.
Lloyd is known as the “Hitler” or collectors. He plans to make his find the piece de resistance in his museum. Sam and he meet with Eli Glinn, president of Effective Engineering Solutions Inc. The meteorite weighs 4000 tons (the largest meteorite known is 61 tons in the New York Museum). Palmer wants Glinn to bring it to him.
The weather is unbearable and they’ll have at most 4 to 5 hour days to work in Isla Desolacion, Chile. Sam meets with Maneul Garza, construction engineer for EES. They guarantee success in their contracts. Eugene Rochefort, manager of engineering takes an immediate dislike to Sam when he uses peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches to demonstrate how a meteorite lands, Dr. Rachel Amira is a mathematician. Glinn tells Amira she will be Sam’s assistant, he doesn’t trust him. She’s no rat, she protests.
Glinn tells Lloyd the EES will do it on two conditions: a hundred-and-fifty million maneuverability clause and a dead man’s switch. He hires Captain Britton to command the freighter who is having custody issues due to a previous intoxication on the job.
The Ice Limit is where the waters of the southern oceans meet the subfreezing waters surrounding Antartica. Also called the Sixties. It is this, they want to avoid at all costs. The Titanic was sunk by a single iceberg, these are ice islands four miles wide or longer.
They fool the Chiliean authorities into thinking they are actually looking for gold but one commanding officer, Veneer, doesn’t believe them and anchors his destroyer just off the shoreline where the meteorite is. They bring a native Maghan Indian aboard, a native of the Cape Horn, and also the same one who found Nestor, for a guide.
As you can imagine, things go wrong. From the $5000 diamond drill bit broken trying to take a sample of the rock, to two deaths at the hands of it, another at the hands of Veener’s son, Timmer, who was sent to spy on operations, and then getting the meteorite that turns out to be bigger than expected aboard the ship proves harrowing, not to mention that Veener is gunning for them.
Veener’s actions press them into the Sixties to avoid him and they are swept into the Ice Limit. The book rushes to an exciting conclusion that is not at all what you think. Still, some parts dragged for me throughout the book (admittedly, I’m not a science person so—).