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TOP 500 REVIEWERon January 1, 2017
Author Matthew Iden started out well, framing a thriller with a compelling story and backdrop that kept me enthusiastically reading until about 80% into the story. At that point, the foundation began to crack and, if not for the power of the author's prose, might have caused the story to tumble to the ground. Here's why, without spoilers:

THE WRITING -- "The Winter Over" is carried by exceptional descriptions and dialogue. Mr. Iden demonstrates his skills from the first page to the last, weaving images that paint complete pictures of the action. The reader is introduced to all the major and minor characters, presenting enough information that one never becomes confused. This aspect of the book is five-star quality.

THE PLOT – Without being pushed, the reader is slowly pulled into the story until immersed in the mystifying details and unable to stop turning the pages. With less than a quarter of the book left, the plot took on a different life, and it felt at times that events were twisted to make sense of the story. The first time I kept my disbelief in check, but then something else happened followed by other incredulous incidents. After a while, I felt like the Dutch boy trying to plug leaks in the dike. Eventually, I ran out of fingers. Some of the problems (without exposing major parts of the story): causing weapons to suddenly appear, enabling the heroine to miraculously have just the tool she needs close at hand, and a scene where the moon is full but it is pitch black outside and nothing can be seen (including a nearby fire). Add to that the calculating Observer (the villain) being revealed at the end through a careless slip and story immersion continues to fracture.

THE CHARACTERS – One cannot help but like the heroine Cass. While she does carry some baggage with her, it doesn’t overwhelm her personality. Readers will find it hard not to step into her shoes and experience the action through her eyes. Other characters are fleshed out enough to give the story credibility.

IN CASE YOU WANTED TO KNOW – I don’t charge stars for language, but do let potential readers know there are vulgarities and f-bombs in this book. The author makes judicious use of these rather than littering them unnecessarily throughout the book. While there are some instances of sexual innuendos, they are on the level of what one would see and hear on a weeknight sitcom. Sex scenes are not described in the story.

THE INTANGIBLES – Thrillers similar to “The Winter Over” have been written many times. Take a bunch of people, add some danger, plant them where there is no easy way out, and let the mayhem happen. However, Mr. Iden’s descriptions and character interactions make this a page-turner. Yes, there are some plot devices in the final chapters which caused concern. However, while these led to a lower rating, the book is so well crafted that I still recommend it.

BOTTOM LINE – A good read, one that will hold your attention. Rating it three-and-a half stars.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon January 2, 2017
It's difficult to explain why I picked this Kindle First book. I've never been sufficiently interested in the Antarctic to read anything about it and I'm not normally much of a thriller fan. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself engrossed in the details of how survival (of a sort) is made possible for the scientists and support staff who live there to perform research that cannot be accomplished anywhere else on earth.

Some of the information astonished me. I had no idea that the research station there is 10,000 feet above sea level. As if the cold isn't bad enough, there's also the danger of high-altitude sickness. So which one killed scientist Sheryl Larkin? Or was she murdered?

The forty+ people who are left at the station for the long winter season have several things in common. All are intelligent and competitive. Serving in the Antarctic is a resume power-booster and there are far more applicants than positions. Even those in low-level support positions are well-educated or multi-talented or both. Most are geeks and many of the others have military backgrounds. It's not a laid-back atmosphere.

Cass is a young engineer whose career was derailed by an industrial accident. She came to the research station to try to get herself back on track. Keeping the station's machinery working is a vital job. The workers joke uneasily that the Antarctic wants them dead, but the extreme cold is death on equipment, too. And that equipment is all that makes survival possible.

I don't want to give away the plot so I'll say only that a corporation has taken over the management of the station and installed their own people to run it. Of course, they promise that the scientists will be given every assistance in their work, but they didn't promise not to conduct their own experiments and one of those experiments is a carefully-guarded secret.

This book is very well-written and I was fascinated by the look into a strange way of life. There are some stories in which the location is the most important "character" and I think this is one of them. The harsh, constant danger of the Antarctic dominates every moment, as it does in real life.

It's more difficult for me to assess it as a thriller. I was surprised to find so much foreshadowing, a literary technique that I think of as out-dated (a la Mary Roberts Rinehart.) It seems to me that the reader is capable of putting the pieces together more easily than the author gives us credit for.

Cass is an appealing character, as is her boisterous friend Biddie and the station doctor. One of the characters seems absurd and over-drawn to me, but I was impressed with the author's handling of several others. In particular, station manager Jack Hanratty starts out as a shadowy, antagonistic man and it's not until near the end of the story that we learn where he fits into the plot. The station "morale office" (i.e. resident shrink) is also a likable sort who seems to change sides several times.

But the plot revolves around the Joker in the deck - the unknown Mr. X whom Hanratty dubs "The Observer." As disasters pile up, the demoralized staff and crew must try to figure out if they can trust anyone at all.

I loved this book until about the 75% mark. After that, it became too intense and violent to suit me. However, I'm glad I read it. Even if the author took some liberties (as he admits he did) I think it captures the flavor of this unique undertaking and the rare people who challenge themselves there.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon January 1, 2017
This was my kindle first pick for January, it was a no-brainer for me- I love the Marty Singer series by this author. This book was a big disappointment, I struggled to finish it. It started out great, I liked the main character, Cass, and her interactions with the rest of the crew. No spoilers here, as the story progressed, the main premise seemed very improbable. By the time I finished the book, I really didn't care who had caused all the mayhem, I just wanted it to end.
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on January 3, 2017
I chose this book through the Kindle First program, and I'm now regretting that choice. While I can admire the author's prose, his attention to detail, and the obvious amount of research involved, the story ultimately falls apart, a victim of its own improbable premise. I won't give spoilers other than to warn readers that the book is not for the squeamish or faint of heart. I will say that the story centers upon an intriguing idea and for much of the book I was caught up in the story. But then, there's the ending. The intriguing idea morphs into a ridiculous, over-the-top, almost-apocalyptic finish that left me shaking my head and wishing I'd never read The Winter-Over. The one good thing I got out of it was learning a few useful curse words in Russian, so I guess it wasn't a total waste of time.
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on January 3, 2017
You'll feel the bitter cold of a long Antarctic winter in this story of a remote research station where no one and nothing is as it seems. A murder sets the story in motion but that' s only the beginning of a plotful of surprises. The action takes place just as the year round researchers and support staff are settling in for months of polar darkness and the details of daily life in the Antarctic are fascinating. I chose this novel because of the unique setting, but was quickly drawn into the story. I recommend this book to readers who like a little armchair travelling with their mystery.
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Welcome to the South Pole, more specifically the Shackleton South Pole Research Facility (SSPRF). With two maps provided at the beginning of the book, one being a general map of Antarctica showing the stations, ice shelves, etc and the other a more detailed map of the SSPRF it allows the reader to really understand where this fictional story takes place. It is just two days before the base will see no more planes flying in for the next nine months and darkness will descend. The summer staff are leaving and it is just the skeleton crew of forty-four left for the long winter. A woman's body has been discovered by the west door. Who is she? Reportedly Sheryl Larkin. Jack Hanratty, station master, takes Cass (a mechanic) and Taylor (Chief of Security) with him to pick up the body. Why those two? Why doesn't he want anyone else to know about the incident until he has a chance to make a formal announcement?

Lots of mystery appears to accompany this death and yet Cass is surprised, way later in the book to learn that not even Dr. Ayers was allowed to examine the body. Why? Knowing that it definitely takes the right kind of person to survive the winter in Antarctica, why does it seem like the most unsuitable people have been employed there? Cass has had a very traumatic pass and the base shrink, Gerald Keene, definitely has a lot of info on her. How about Leroy, the new electrician just shipped in? What is in the ice tunnels? Who is Cass in contact with on the 'outside' world and how? What is suspicious about the sewer pipe crack? Is Cass hearing things when she hears someone call her name? What's with all the power outages? Sudden loss of heat? This is the first winter that TransAnt have been in charge of the base. Are they somehow connected with what is going on?

If you are looking for a fast paced murder mystery, this isn't it! If you are looking for a good suspense, most of the time you will be disappointed as you read this book. Book starts off REALLY well gripping the reader and I have to say that it ends well. I was completely surprised and didn't see the ending coming at all. Everywhere else the book is bogged down in details and the mundane of life at the research station. Cass doesn't even get a hint of a clue until Chapter 13! Admittedly some of the details were interesting but the rest was not gripping at all. Written in four parts, this story starts in February and ends in June. If you are looking for a clean read then this is definitely not for you. There are frequent F-bombs, other bad language and although there are no sex scenes, sex and orgies etc. are mentioned. The character of Cass is well developed making the reader definitely root for her.

I chose this book for my January Kindle FREE option. I was not required to write a review but chose to do so. Thanks, Liz
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on January 9, 2017
Here's what I want to say--- to those 3 star reviewers who were disappointed in the read. This is NOT a Marty Singer mystery. So those of you who were expecting that and rated it accordingly, please take note.
This book will be available on 2/1/17 to all non-prime Amazon members. The rest of us, myself included, down loaded this book on 1/1/17 via our prime membership status).
Matt Iden has written stories other than featuring Marty Singer; however, there's no question but that the Singer series has been an extremely popular medium.
I've read other books by this author and 5 of the 6 Singer books and reviewed each one. I am a hallowed member of the Marty Singer fan club!
But this read as well was an outstanding effort of research, plot and character development of chief protagonist Cass Jennings.This is a book to get into. It unravels at a different speed in that it, unlike Singer, does not dwell on the "who dunnit, to whom, and why" right out of the box. It takes some time but it is time well spent.
I don't re tell story lines in my reviews, so will conclude by simply saying to those reviewers who agreed that this was a great read--- WELL DONE.
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on January 3, 2017
We woke this morning to a blizzard with a frigid wind blowing. It was a perfect day to read a book about researchers at the South Pole.

Cass is an engineer that works on engines and keeps the research station clean with her buddy Biddi. Winters at Antarctica are long and dark under the best of conditions, but this season had more challenges than usual. Cass and several others are haunted by their past and what they face as the story unfolds.

I read the book on a Kindle. At 46% completion, I found myself wondering where this story was going. I had some suspicions about events, but began to feel the story wasn't going anywhere. There had been a fair amount of character development and descriptions of the location and not a lot else. The story picked up around 50%. The ending seemed abrupt, although it had incorporated elements supplied in the first half. The plot tidied up loose ends.

After reading this book, I felt better about feeding the animals in single digit temperatures. At least it wasn't 60 or 100 degrees below zero. I learned a few new words and enjoyed that it was a Kindle version so I could have the app look them up for me. I enjoyed the descriptions of the polar research station even though the author acknowledges taking liberties, I liked his creation.

The book contains curse words (in two languages) throughout, but not excessively. A movie version would definitely require warnings of adult language.

It was an okay book. I thought the story started out mostly believable and fell apart toward the end. I liked Cass. I rooted for her to be okay. I won't spoil the ending, though.
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on January 6, 2017
Matthew Iden has yet again written a spell-binding story. Honestly, as a huge fan of the Marty Singer mysteries, I wondered if this book would be any good at all without Marty's presence. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised by my experience with The Winter Over.

Set in the frigid cold world of the South Pole, this story's main character, Cass--hoping to escape the past and rewrite her life--finds herself caught up in the midst of a bizarre and deadly scheme, worse than anything she could have ever imagined she would face. Her struggle to survive these dangers forces her to be stronger than she believed possible. But can she survive her final challenge, the frozen world outside the doors of the science station?

This book stirred in me a desire to believe that I could reach deep inside my very being and find the strength needed to survive any challenge, no matter how great. After all, what girl doesn't identify with a heroine and hope to be just like her?

Well written, believable, captivating story! Thanks for another great journey, Matthew!
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on January 10, 2017
I picked this as my kindle first choice for January. I loved the setting...how could a book NOT be scary when you are trapped with a small crew of scientists in the coldest place on earth with creepy, unexplainable things happening? I liked how it was twist-filled and even though I thought I knew who the Observer was, I did doubt myself and changed my mind a bunch of times! If you like suspense & a "The Shining" type of isolated setting, choose this book!
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