Like those stories, this one revolves around an intrepid expedition: The eccentric, wealthy Captain Kerrigan, an attractive man with a shadowy past, organizes a trip to Antarctica for a select group of writers, artists, and scientists.
First published in 1972, this, Marias second novel, was written when he was only 21. Peppered with characters and digressions, it's an adventure story-within-a-story-within-a-story that harks back to the masters of the genre: Joseph Conrad, Henry James, and Arthur Conan Doyle.
Amid sudden kidnappings, torrid manuscripts, Edwardian spinsters, and lethal duels, this seafaring tale is also a narrative of psychology, obsession, the writer's craft, and human nature, all of which Marias has wrapped up in an evocative, nostalgic novel that is both witty and dark. Fascinated by the question of uncertainty, Marias eschews the solution and prefers to revel in the narrative process itself, and asks the reader to consider the possibility that the truth as we know it isn't nearly as interesting as its own shadow.