A party of hunters stumbles upon a desiccated human hand, a feisty grandmother meets an untimely death in her own kitchen, and the broken remains of a World War II-era transport plane emerge from the face of a calving glacier. It's all in a day's work for Sergeant Liam Campbell of the Alaska State Troopers.
Edgar Award winner Dana Stabenow returns to the world of Liam Campbell and Wy Chouinard, in a mystery spanning over 60 years. As always, she paints a compelling portrait of Alaska and its fiercely independent citizens.
In Stabenow's third Alaska State Trooper Liam Campbell mystery (following 1998's Fire and Ice), the physical descriptions of Alaska are awesome: Stabenow places you right in this lonely, breathtaking country. But a novel needs more than scenery and here the scenery, so beautifully evoked that it serves as another character, can't move the story along by itself. When Liam's lover, pilot Wy Chouinard, discovers the murdered Opal Nunapitchuk while delivering mail at lonely Kagati Lake, she calls Campbell and his assistant, Diane Prince. At first it seems a random assault; then a woman disappears after her husband is killed at their gold mining claim. When the troopers connect the crimes with a 20-year-old string of missing women, they know they're following a previously undetected serial killer. Meanwhile, Wy's adopted teenage son, Tim, is again in danger from his alcoholic birth mother. Wy hastens him to Moses Alakuyak's fish camp at Old Man Creek, where Moses and his girlfriend, Bill, take care of the boy. When Peter Cole, whose cabin is another stop on Wy's mail run, is found dead, she plots the track of the present crimes and realizes the madman is headed for Old Man Creek. Edgar-winner Stabenow is an accomplished writer whose books, including the Kate Shugak and the Star Svensdotter series, are always entertaining. But in this one the sense of place overwhelms everything else, although that may be what Alaska is all about.