Tommy Black and Eddie Creech were bad guys always seeking instant gratification throughout their dysfunctional lives. When they didn’t get it, they would remove the obstructions to their goal; if that block was human, they killed it. This did not go unnoticed by the law, after capture they were sentenced to life in prison. Immediately after sentencing, they were to be transferred to Big Sandy federal prison. Marshals Andy Rolfe and Bill Wallace were tasked with the transport; they wanted to get going immediately so they might arrive at the distant facility before a huge blizzard arrived. Due to a perfect storm type of scenario, snow and drifts would cut off various areas of Kentucky completely; all roads impassable, electrical lines down, no cell phone service. The road to the prison went through mountainous areas of a national forest.
We expect that there will be problems with the transport. There are. We expect a car wreck, a prisoner escape, a bit of killing, and struggles for survival in life-endangering cold. Check, check, check, and check. To survive, Tommy and Eddie must get to at least one of the houses located in the national forest. It’s a good thing they are deserted. For the most part, they are the vacation homes of the rich. Maybe the criminals can find food and warm clothes. They find one house, not so rich; it is inhabited. Pause for killing. Now move on to one of the richer homes, but, oops, it is inhabited.
Mark and Jackie are good friends with Rex and Vera. The latter couple is rich due to Vera’s inheritance. Mark and Jackie are more like poor cousins. Mark and Rex had been friends since university days. Rex was an extrovert, a born salesman; Mark was a detail man, controlling day-to-day operations in a partnership that was an insurance company. Mark was very aware of Rex’s dominant role, and a bit jealous of it. This jealousy played out in Mark’s mind accompanied his behavior in a real world. It was as if everything he did and said came with a mental yes, but … Readers expect tension, perhaps a sexual tension, possibly acrimonious exchanges. Mostly, this does not happen.
Yep, the criminals eventually reach the house. There is the predictable violence we expect between captor and hostage. Law enforcement in the form of Vic Armitage is in pursuit once communications failed with the original transport officers. Vic does not want to capture the criminals, he wants to kill them for the beating they had given his fellow marshal, James Richter. So we have the conflict of a law enforcement type going against his ethics, morals, and the law.
All of this is taking place in the wider context of the huge blizzard. Whiteout, the title is a familiar term for me because I lived in Midwestern US for a while. It’s dangerous and life threatening. While up to now, the story has been fairly predictable; Heidtman writes in such an interesting way that readers are swept along with the action; one of those books you don’t want to put down. Then, the SURPRISES happen. Things go in an entirely new direction. I won’t write spoilers.
Read the book.