Hello my fellow bookworm, today I am bringing you my thoughts on the vintage thriller The Land God Gave to Cain by Hammond Innes, which was published in 1958. This is an author and book I had never heard of before I received this lovely hardback copy in my first ever vintage book box from the Teatime Bookshop.
The Land God Gave to Cain tells the tale of how a young British engineer, Ian Ferguson goes from his regular, steady job in the quiet English countryside to a dangerous journey through the frozen, snowy wilds of Canada. This is brought about by the shocking death of his father, which was precipitated by receiving a S.O.S. radioed from the Labrador peninsula. 📻
For many years, Ian and his father has been somewhat estranged, as his disabled veteran father spent all his time in the spare room listening to his radio. After his death, Ian discovers the S.O.S in his father’s incoherent notes, however when he tries to pass the information on people dismiss his father as ‘not in his right mind’. This gets Ian’s gander up, as whatever their differences may have been, he is convinced his father was not crazy.
The problem is that the message is alleged to have come from Paul Briffe: a man believed to be dead as a victim of a fiery crash during a recent geological expedition. And so Ian is self-compelled to set off across the Atlantic to Canada’s desolate north in search of answers and to clear the good name of his father. 🛩
What follows is a gripping and fascinating adventure of this everyday man using all his wits and skills to make sense of this strange riddle and survive extreme situations. Along the way he slowly unravels the mystery surrounding the recent expedition and reveals its bizarre connection with his grandfather’s murder some fifty years before.
I particularly enjoyed the vivid description of the cold, snow-covered terrain; the dangerous journey; and the small pockets of humanity, where people work hard and survive huddled around fires, on simple, hearty food and strong coffee. The author, Innes, travelled through this most easterly province of Canada and I think you can definitely tell in his realistic rendition. 🗻
However present-day readers may be surprised by the slow pace of the writing, which is very unlike our modern, breakneck-speed thrillers. This instead manages to be both gentle and gripping at the same time. Personally, I found it quite refreshing, especially as I thought the pace reflects how much longer it took to get anywhere in this period. It was also nice to escape from our generation’s non-stop lives.
All in all, I thought the vintage thriller, The Land God Gave to Cain was a thrilling adventure and mystery with an everyday hero, set against the beautiful and stark backdrop of the wilds of Canada; which I very much enjoyed escaping into away from my own troubles/illness. Good read
Have you read this? Or anything else by Hammond Innes? Please let me know in the comment below – I love to chat and get recommendations.