ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – The White Lie by J.G. Kelly #BlogTour
It’s my stop on the blog tour for The White Lie by J.G. Kelly. My thanks to Emily Goulding from Hodder & Stoughton for the review copy of the book and the place on the tour. The White Lie is available now in hardcover, eBook and audiobook.
1913. Captain Scott and his four companions reach the South Pole to find their Norwegian rival Roald Amundsen has won the race. Defeated, they set out on the 850-mile journey to their ship. Apsley Cherry-Garrard, the explorer sent out to meet them at One Ton depot, peering South through thick spectacles, sees only an infinity of white, and turns back. A year later Scott’s pitched tent is found, just ten miles from the depot, and the bodies within speak of hunger, the unbearable strain of hauling the sledge, and the brutal winter cold. They lie in a tomb of ice. Cherry is left forever tormented by thoughts of what might have been.
1969. Ten years after Cherry’s death, Falcon Grey – who as an orphan of the Blitz was brought up at the explorer’s country estate – receives a bequest: a small red notebook that was found in Scott’s tent. It is a diary: and it states that they were not victims of the cold, or hunger, but murder, in the coldest of blood. Suspects range from envious foreign powers – such as the Kaiser’s Germany – to revolutionaries and even Scott’s own men. Vital clues lie in the tent, so Falcon goes South to the ice to see it for himself, but someone is desperate to conceal the truth and will kill to keep the secrets under the ice.
The White Lie appealed to my interest in the stark landscape of Antarctica and I was really intrigued by the storyline which is set around the legend of Captain Scott and his companions’ ill-fated Antarctic expedition which led to their deaths in 1912. This book considers an alternative conclusion in which the men didn’t die naturally but were murdered.
Apsley Cherry-Garrard was to have met the men but turned back when he couldn’t see them. In later years he finds himself tormented by the guilt. Falcon Grey is a young man who was taken in by Cherry after a rocket attack in WWII and it falls to him on Cherry’s death to try and find out the truth of what happened, with some risk to himself as somebody clearly wants it to remain a mystery.
I enjoy books where fact is combined with fiction and The White Lie is a great example of this, taking a piece of history that is so well-known and adding a murderous slant to it. I must admit to being a little out of my depth at times when it became quite complex, but there was much I enjoyed about it, including the details of Falcon’s childhood and his unstinting search for the truth, along with the secret diary of Captain Scott. This is a well-written and inventive work of historical crime fiction.
James Kelly is the author of the Nighthawk crime series for Alison and Busby, and the Philip Dryden series for Penguin. He was born in 1957 and is the son of a Scotland Yard detective. He went to university in Sheffield, later training as a journalist and worked on the Bedfordshire Times, Yorkshire Evening Press and the Financial Times. His first book, The Water Clock, was shortlisted for the John Creasey Award and he has since won a CWA Dagger in the Library and the New Angle Prize for Literature. He lives in Ely, Cambridgeshire.