The Yukon Quest has the reputation of being the toughest sled dog race in the world, taking teams and mushers through more than a thousand miles of North America's most remote and treacherous territory.Jessie Arnold is ready to meet the challenge. Jessie and her team of dogs are well prepared for the daring competition, but her one regret is that her longtime friend and lover, Alex Jensen, isn't there to see her off. Alex has been called home to Idaho for a family emergency and Jessie begins the big race without her biggest booster. Well along the trail, Jessie is stunned to learn that a young novice racer she met at the start has been abducted and held for ransom. The girl's distraught father has been warned that no one but Jessie Arnold is to be told--especially not the police. Feeling isolated and alone, Jessie must decide what to do in the face of terrible odds. It's the contest of a lifetime, yet as the other mushers push toward the finish line, Jessie forges ahead in a race all her own. Unable to ignore the plight of the missing girl, she's in a life and death battle against a desperate, unknown kidnapper who will stop at nothing. Speeding through the twists and turns of the icy, broken trails, Jessie has no time for fear. For somewhere in that vast and lonely landscape, a killer waits for a chance to unleash a murderous rage on anyone who dares to get in his way.
Alaska's spectacular, dangerous wilderness forms the background to Henry's engaging, if overplotted, sixth novel (after Deadfall). Professional musher Jessie Arnold is in peril, this time on the Yukon Quest, "the toughest dogsled race in the world," which runs over 1000 miles from Whitehorse, Canada, to Fairbanks, Alaska. Early in the race, novice musher Debbie Todd is captured and held for $200,000 ransom. The kidnappers demand that Debbie's frantic stepfather give Jessie the money for delivery during the race, warning them both that Debbie will die if they inform the police. But Jessie secretly notifies her good friend, Inspector Charles Delafosse, before she tackles the race's most demanding leg. In a climactic finish, Jessie almost loses her life when she confronts the criminals on American Summit during a blinding blizzard. Throughout this turmoil, Jessie is also trying to sort out her feelings for her lover, State Trooper Alex Jensen, who's at his father's funeral in Idaho. Henry decorates her novel with glorious evocations of Alaska, believable characters, interesting mushing lore and deft explanations of dogsledding mechanics. But the story suffers from a thin plot that leans on obvious clues and unlikely coincidences. Nonetheless, dog lovers will enjoy it, as will those willing to forgive the faults in construction in favor of some beautiful writing.