Book Review: Arctic Adagio

Artic Adagio

  • Title: Arctic Adagio
  • Author: D.J. Cockburn
  • Series: None
  • Genre: Sci-Fi Mystery Novelette
  • Publishing Date: May 27th, 2019
  • Publishing Co.: Annorlunda Books
  • Length: 85 pages
  • Format: Kindle, Paperback
  • Acquired: Given free paperback copy in exchange for an honest review
  • Amazon LinkArctic Adagio

How do you catch a murderer when your suspects own the law? Superintendent Rex Harme’s job is to protect the super-rich from pirates and anarchists. It’s not his job to investigate them. If they cared to be investigated, they wouldn’t be living on a luxury cruise ship that accepts no national jurisdiction. But when one of the super-rich is thrown into the Arctic Ocean, Harme will need to remember the detective he used to be because someone is going to pay for that murder – but whether or not the right person pays depends on whether Harme can beat the clock he isn’t supposed to know is ticking.

Final Judgment: 4.5 Stars out of 5

Since this is such a short novelette, I will not be doing a first chapter challenge. 

This whodunit-esque novelette by D.J. Cockburn is set in the dystopian future, where the rich control the world, and the climate has perished under humanity’s negligence. Rex Harme, a former police detective, is now working as security on a cruise ship in the Arctic Ocean, with some of the world’s richest–and shallowest–people partying it up. But when one of the guests is thrown overboard, he must solve the mystery of the murderer’s identity.

When your job is to babysit the richest people in the world, being able to keep a straight face is as important as being able to recognize an armed anarchist (pg 7).

Within its quick 85 pages, Arctic Adagio keeps its readers engaged and constantly on the lookout. With the novelette being so short, we know that the murderer will be caught soon, and we don’t want to miss out on one telling detail! It’s shortness, as well as it’s quick pace and easy-flowing writing style urge readers to continue turning pages, until we reach the end in a surprisingly short time. I know that I sat down to start reading this novel, and ended up finishing it in that same position about a half hour later. There was just no good place to stop! I had to continue attempting to solve the mystery before Harme did it for me!

I grew up watching Columbo and reading this “Big Book of Whodunits” that my father got for me for Christmas one year, so I am familiar with these short–and yet intricately designed and frustratingly difficult to solve–murder mysteries. I loved this book. I would definitely allow it to rest within the pages of my “Big Book” as its own short mystery.

Perhaps it was Espinosa’s inspiration that made me switch to Barber’s Adagio. I wanted Barber’s violins to lift my soul to where it could look down on the wreckage of itself. It took a composer as brilliant as Barber to make sense of the idea (pg 45).

However, it was even greater than the traditional Whodunits that I grew up reading. There was actual character development with Harme, a surprising feat given the short nature of the book and its primary mystery. And yet, I found myself craving more. I wanted to learn more about Harme and his son, more about how the world came to be as it was, more about the mystery. In fact, that is the reason I did not give this book the full 5 stars; I felt almost cheated by Harme’s revealing of the mystery. I had just begun to pool my suspects and put together some of the facts when he spilled it all. It seemed a bit rushed, something that perhaps could have stretched out to 100 pages and still keep its brevity. Perhaps this would have allowed much more of a buildup for the climax, rather than the grand revelation petering out.

“Global warning is a truly marvelous thing… To think only a few decades ago, the sea beneath our hull was solid ice.”

…”It must have been such a waste.”

…”The wisdom of my grandfather’s generation wasn’t appreciated in his day, but we can pay tribute to it now,” (pg 7-8).

I also want to note that I loved the fact that Cockburn brings up a valid–if veiled–problem within our current society: climate change. The class distinctions as well as the blatant mockery and even pleasure with which the super-rich regard the lack of ice in the Arctic is absolutely disgusting. I cannot envision living in a world where that is reality, and I hope that we can take the hint and begin working towards keeping this only fantasy.

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