A small flower is discovered on an Iceland glacier – and just beyond it a female body, dead, frozen in the ice. When an ambitious US medical anthropologist is called in to handle things, a veil of secrecy is dropped over the body.
Out Of Iceland by Ann Cassin is an exciting weekend read, and an education in, not only Science, but of Iceland, as well, and in sufficient detail to present a clear proof of presence to the reader. Ms. Cassin knows her science and she has designed the book in an exciting, modern, chronological pattern; short but packed paragraphs and clearly demarcated changes in venue. Ann Pinson Cassin worked as an anthropologist and English teacher in Iceland for five years. She also was a science writer for The American Museum of Natural History, Science Service, and Scholastic Magazines. A short story, Hibernal Onding appeared in The Taj Mahal Review, December 2008. A short story, Mavis Lamb Needs Geologist for Oregon Gold Mine, was in the June through September 2011 monthly online journal issues of Long Story Short. She has a doctorate in anthropology from Stony Brook University and a master s degree in public health from the University of California, Berkeley. We are introduced to an archeological find a body belonging to a Middle Age s human, nearly fully preserved in the freeze of Iceland s climate, and nearly 500 years old. We meet our heroine Anthropologist Dana Eakin, described by Cassin as a natural blonde; she was crowned with angelic fluff her hair fell to her shoulders. We learn she must return to Iceland, after a letter from her father comes, urging her there, He has since gone missing Cassin brings us into the world of infectious disease, and the notoriously diverse world of characters a much bulkier novel usually presents. Her people are, at once real, and like flesh and blood counterparts, bear witness to Cassin s talent. Her arms and delicate legs, both limbs longer than her short torso, gave her both an enormous reach and great strides of equine grace. These assets will keep Dana out of the hands of what turns out to be a plot of enormous international scale and potential harm. Thus, Dana enters the contemporary world of Icelandic culture, and we too, along for the read. This is a woman in search of her father and colleague, and her unrelenting search of all who had any shred of evidence of his whereabouts, gets her into the lives of local Icelanders, some creative, many simply rough-hewn sailors, or farmers, all sagacious and aware of their Viking ancestry. --Mary Barnet
From above the Arctic Circle comes Dana Eakin, a Dan Brown-style sleuth off to solve her first mystery, in this debut novel. The author Siri Hustvedt once described Iceland as a place where day never really became night. Cassin s book a kind of archaeological thriller takes place in that northerly nation, and it s a wonder that so many dark secrets can hide in a country where the sun almost never sets. Like a number of mysteries, the tale opens with a body, this one just barely peeking out from the thick ice. But the corpse is also nearly half a millennium old, and its slow thaw lets loose a bevy of dangers both ancient and modern. The author tasks a number of compelling characters with solving the body s mysteries, but none of these figures are as intriguing as Cassin s protagonist, Dana Eakin. Eakin is a remarkable new heroine a smart, young anthropologist whose scientific acumen just happens to make her an excellent detective. (Perhaps her most recent literary forebear is Sophie Neveu of The Da Vinci Code.) Cassin hints that this might be just the first of many Eakin novels, and if that s true, she s off to a superb start. This tale is intricate and inventive, and its source material Icelandic culture, epidemiology, lichenology is quite unusual. That is not to say there aren t some first-book wrinkles to iron out. Cassin has a tendency to overwrite. Once, when Eakin opens a heavy door, it is as though she were entering a vault. The author continues: That door was authentic archival vault material, and just a few lines later mentions the same vault-like doors. It s tough to hammer a metaphor home any harder. Furthermore, the chapters especially early on are so brief that the narrative sometimes gets disjointed. (By page 18, Cassin is already on Chapter 10.) It s as if the author is so excited by her project that she wants to tell readers all of it at the same time. But as the book stretches out, Cassin relaxes. Readers do, too, and the remainder of the work is a thrill and a delight. Audiences will surely hope that this won t be Eakin s only case. A distinctive page-turner starring a fine new detective. --Kirkus Review