With her cabin a pile of ashes and her life in pieces, champion Alaskan "musher" Jessie Arnold has gratefully accepted a friend's proposal that she drive his motor home up from Idaho, along the Alaska Highway—a breathtaking, two thousand-mile-long route winding past hot springs, glaciers, and ice-blue lakes. But the idyllic trip takes a dark turn when a teenage hitchhiker brings terror aboard. Frightened and alone, Patrick Cutler disappears just before the police inform Jessie that the young runaway is wanted in connection with two shocking murders. Suddenly she is cast into a raging maelstrom of dark secrets and deadly consequences. And the cold and empty road she's traveling could be leading her not to her home... but to a grave in the trackless wilderness.
This is one of Henry's best if not the best because characters, not a dog team, drive the plot. Waiting to replace her cabin (burned down in Beneath the Ashes; 2000), Jessie Arnold, with her beloved lead husky, Tank, agrees to pick up her contractor's new Winnebago in Idaho and drive it up the gloriously scenic Alaska Highway. Into the idyllic trip pops Patrick Cutler, a runaway teenager from Cody, Wyo. Without the usual musher gang, Henry creates some lively new characters: "Maxie" McNabb, an independent, adventurous widow who befriends Jessie; elderly Mr. Dalton, Patrick's wily Cody neighbor; and tough long-distance trucker Butch Stringer. Jessie and Maxie know there are holes in Patrick's story, but they agree to help him reach a friend in Fairbanks, putting them on a collision course with his violent stepfather, "Mack" McMurdock, who killed Patrick's mother and is now after him. William Webster, a RCMP detective; Daniel Loomis, a Cody homicide cop; and two of Patrick's high school friends are also pursuing him, all for different reasons. The talented Henry shows her love of the Alaskan wilderness with vivid descriptions of its spectacular beauty, using it as the backdrop for several heart-stopping chases. A clever ending leaves some strings dangling, while an excellent map helps keep the reader on track.