Sunday, April 03, 2011

Frozen Sun by Stan Jones

Protagonist: Nathan Active
Setting: Anchorage and Chukchi, Alaska
Rating: 4.5
Alaska State Trooper Nathan Jones is asked by the Chukchi high school principal, Jason Palmer, to find his missing daughter, Grace, who left home 10 years ago and was last seen on The Junction, a seedy strip of bars in Anchorage. A former Miss North World, the photos of Grace show a stunning teenager. So Nathan, although not officially on the case, begins to do some digging when he's sent to Anchorage for a computer class. This causes a rift between Nathan and his girlfriend Lucy, who is jealous of Grace. But can there be something behind Lucy's jealousy? Is there another reason Nathan is going beyond the obligations of his job? In this, the third book, Jones has hit his stride. His descriptions of Alaska and the culture made books one and two very readable, but here he complements that with a strong, compelling storyline and well-drawn characters. If you like Dana Stabenow's books, I'd recommend Stan Jones.

Below are descriptions of books one and two:

White Sky, Black Ice
Nathan Active has been posted to Chukchi, not Anchorage, where he’d like to be, but he makes the best of it. In this small town, with its persistent harsh west wind, despair sometimes takes hold; suicides are not uncommon. But when two men, George Clinton and Aaron Stone, who both worked at the Gray Wolf Mine, commit what seems like suicide, Active believes that they were killed -- even though one of them, Clinton, is under a family curse, city residents say. Two other Clinton sons have committed suicide. This, the first in a series, is a nice study of small-town Alaska.

Shaman Pass
First, “Uncle Frosty” -- a native mummy that the Smithsonian has returned to the Inupiat museum in Chukchi -- is stolen, along with a harpoon and an owl amulet that had been with the body. Then a tribal elder is found dead, the harpoon impaled in his chest and the amulet in his mouth. As Nathan investigates, he finds that the death, as well as the theft, has roots in events that occurred generations ago. More than the plot, I loved this book, the second in the series, for its descriptions of the Inupiat and of Alaska, especially the isolated hunting and whaling camps and a remote mountain pass (where Jones writes a seat-gripping plane scene).

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