Excerpt from The Ice Child by Elizabeth McGregor, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Ice Child

By Elizabeth McGregor

The Ice Child

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Gina was sorting through papers on her desk. "Marshall," she said. "I've been thinking about him. He's still missing. I want you to do a piece."

Jo's gaze settled on her. "You're joking. Not the madman."

"No. I want you to go and talk to his wife."

"His wife? Ah, Gina. No."

"Why not?" Jo shook her head.

"I can't go steaming in there. And I don't know a thing about him. And I don't really want to either. You know that."

Gina nodded, but briefly, the nod dismissing the objection rather than seeing its point. "We haven't heard anything at all from Mrs. Marshall, and that's why I want you to go."

"To talk to her ..."

"To talk to someone who knows the family."

"Because?"

"Because no journalist has ever spoken to Alicia Marshall."

Gina found what she was looking for on her desk. "Here's Marshall's biography," she said, handing Jo five or six stapled sheets. "Marshall's pretty upfront, but his wife likes to keep a low profile. Power-behind-the-throne stuff. A lot of money. She's a trustee of the Academy. Rumored to be a bit of a bitch."

Jo raised her eyebrows, interested at last. "Oh, yeah?"

"She was asked for a comment this week, on Monday," Gina said. "And she said, 'No comment.'"

"Who to?"

"The Times."

"Ha," said Jo, amused.

"You've seen the latest on him?"

"No."

"They found the GPS."

"What's a GPS?" Jo asked.

"Global positioning. The one thing you need, a kind of satellite compass. It was dropped on the ice."

Jo hesitated. "It's really not my scene, you know," she muttered. "Can't you send someone else?"

"I've got a hunch," Gina replied.

"What kind of hunch?"

"Dunno. Could be good for you."

"Hmmph," Jo responded, unimpressed. She leafed quickly through the papers in her lap. "I don't even know what he was looking for in ruddy Greenland."

"Medieval settlements. Something about Vikings and Eskimos."

"Oh, thrilling."

Gina ignored her. "The archivist at the Academy in Cambridge is called Peter Bolton." She passed a page of notes across to accompany the photocopies. "He can only see you at eight tomorrow morning. He's teaching all day."

Jo held Gina's eye for a few long seconds, before conceding. She knew the glint in her editor's eye only too well to refuse. "Great," she grumbled, as she packed the papers together.



It was a long way on the tube to Jo's flat. After a full day correcting copy and researching for another piece she was scheduled to interview for on Friday, Jo was still not really interested in Marshall. Riding the stuttering rail, crammed into a carriage with a hundred other commuters, she only skimmed through his biography.

Douglas James Marshall, born Ontario 1960. Fellow of Blethyn College, professor of archaeology, specialist in marine sites, special interest Victorian ship construction, chairman Royal Commission 1989-92 Naval Heritage, author of The Shipwreck Society (1994), Under the Mediterranean (1996), The Search for the Caesar Augustus (1997)....

Over the last couple of years Douglas Marshall had become the spokesman for the University Exploration Academy, and was regularly wheeled out to comment on anything where a tame historical expert was needed. Plus, he had been a regular on the BBC 2 series. She could bring the title pictures to mind, even see the landscapes, and the stills that the Sunday supplements had used in various articles. But as for Marshall himself, she couldn't visualize him beyond a broad, blurred smile.

When she got home, the light on the answering machine was flashing, and she saw the fax waiting. She ignored it while she showered and made herself a sandwich. Only grudgingly, after she had got out, and wrapped herself in a towel, did she read what Gina had given her.

Copyright 2001, Elizabeth McGregor. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher - Dutton Books.

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