• Mon. Apr 15th, 2024

So This is Paris: The Greenland Breach by Bernard Besson


Ok, this title sounds right out of a James Bond flick:

The Arctic ice caps are breaking up. Europe and the East Coast of the United States brace for a tidal wave. Meanwhile, former French intelligence officer John Spencer Larivière, his karate-trained, steamy Eurasian partner Victoire, and their computer-genius sidekick Luc pick up an ordinary freelance assignment that quickly leads them into the glacial silence of the great north, where a merciless war is being waged for control of discoveries that will change the future of humanity. The author is a former top-level official in French intelligence and a prizewinning thriller writer. Translated by award-winning Les Misérables translator Julie Rose.

Well, let’s get to it!

Greenland, the north face of Haffner Bjerg

GreenlandBreach800-194x300 Lars Jensen felt the ground tremble beneath the snow. He straightened up and abandoned his position, petrified by what he was seeing to the west, toward Canada. The last phase of global warming had begun just as a big red helicopter flew past from the east. It doubtless belonged to Terre Noire, the Franco-Danish oil-and-gas company that was carrying out geological surveys.

From the rocky slopes of Haffner Bjerg, events were taking an unimaginable turn worthy of Dante. With a sound as ominous as the crack of doom, the Lauge Koch Kyst had begun to tear away from Greenland and plummet into Baffin Bay in the North Atlantic Ocean. A colossal breach a mile and a half deep was opening up in the middle of the island continent. The trench ran for miles, as if an invisible ax had just split the ice cap in two.

Terrified, Lars backed away, forgetting what he had come to the top of the world to do. He’d guessed that his presence on the slopes of Haffner Bjerg had something to do with the death of the Arctic. The advance wired from an anonymous account on the island of Jersey was every bit as incredible as the cataclysm under way.

A mist shot through with rainbows rose from the depths of the last ice age. Behind the iridescent wall, thousands of years of packed ice raked the granite surface and crashed into the sea, stirring up a gigantic tsunami. He pressed his hands to his ears to muffle the howling of Greenland as it began to die.

It took Lars awhile to get a grip. His hands were still shaking as the thunderous impact reached him. It was even more frightening than the ear-splitting sound. Greenland was plunging into Baffin Bay. In a few hours, the coasts of Canada and the United States would be flooded. He fell to his knees like a child, overcome by thoughts that had never before crossed his mind. An abyss was opening inside him, and it was just as frightening as the one in front of him. It wasn’t until his fitful breathing slowed and his lungs stopped burning that he was able to get back to the tawdry reality of his own situation.

He lay down again on the hardpacked snow. With his eye glued to the sight of his rifle, he found the trail that the dogsled had taken from the Great Wound of the Wild Dog. That’s where the team would emerge, heading for Josephine and the automated science base that sounded the great island’s sick heart. The Terre Noire geologists were known for their punctuality, but at two thousand euros an hour, he would wait if he had to. Say what you like, the end of the world was good business.

[Later in the story]

Paris, 18 rue Deparcieux

John, Luc, and Victoire walked back to Fermatown via the Rue Deparcieux, which was parallel to the Rue Fermat. Surrounded by a garden visible from the sidewalk, the huge house usually cost a fortune to heat. But winter hadn’t arrived this year. Global warming had saved Fermatown’s finances.

The sun had set the neighborhood ablaze. Spring would be a scorcher. John told himself there had to be a way to accept Harper’s offer. There was no point in resorting to espionage to find out what Terre Noire was hiding. Ninety percent of all corporate information was freely available to the public, especially in France. All you had to do was ask the right people the right questions and search the appropriate databases. As was his habit, John quickly glanced up and down the street before unlocking the garage door. They savored the semi-darkness of this space, where they parked the two cars and the two motorbikes that constituted Fermatown’s fleet. He left Luc to close the door behind them and bent down to Caresse, the Persian house cat.

“Come here, gorgeous,” he said as he picked her up.

They took the spiral staircase up to the second floor. When they reached the big main room, Victoire asked the touch screen wall to light up and display the news channels. Hubert de Méricourt had asked Fermatown to test this latest technology before installing it in the agency’s offices at Les Invalides. The prototype was nine feet high and six feet wide. The wall responded to fingerprint and voice command. It could show television channels, websites, newspapers, and documents from databases and had a host of apps.

Forgetting the cheese and wine, they stood glued to the screen. After inundating Baffin Island and the Labrador coast, the Greenland tsunami was heading for the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. Boston and New York were filled with scenes of panic. The most predictable of catastrophes was taking the world by surprise. Several Canadian ports had been submerged by a wave more than twelve feet high. The number of victims was still unknown, but a Quebec channel was talking about scores of deaths and extensive damage. Photos of two faces kept popping up on the news channels: the climatologist and Nobel Prize winner Romain Brissac and Loïc Le Guévenec, captain of the Bouc-Bel-Air.

BONUS: Here’s a pic of the author with Caresse.


Isn’t she adorbs?

How’d you like that title? See you next time.