Suffragette and journalist Charlotte Brody is bracing herself for her first winter in the frontier town of Cordova in the Alaska Territory. But the chilling murder of a local store owner is what really makes her blood run cold. . .
After three months in Cordova, Charlotte is getting accustomed to frontier life. She is filing articles for the local paper--including a provocative editorial against Prohibition--and enjoying a reunion with her brother Michael, the town doctor and coroner. Michael's services are soon called upon when a fire claims the life of hardware store owner Lyle Fiske. A frontier firebug is suspected of arson, but when Michael determines Fiske was stabbed before his store was set ablaze, the town of Cordova has another murder to solve.
Her journalist's curiosity whetted, Charlotte begins to sort through the smoldering ruins of Lyle Fiske's life, only to discover any number of people who might have wanted him dead. As the days grow shorter, Charlotte's investigation turns increasingly complex. She may be distant from the trappings of civilization, but untangling the motives for murder will require plumbing the very depths of Charlotte's investigative acumen. . .
Set in Cordova, Alaska Territory, in November, 1919, Pegau's entertaining follow-up to 2015's Murder on the Last Frontier focuses on arson. When the body of Lyle Fiske is found in his hardware store after a fire, journalist and suffrage supporter Charlotte Brody and Deputy Marshal James Eddington both assume the fire is the work of an arsonist who has been operating in the area for a few years. However, Charlotte's coroner brother, Michael, reveals that Lyle died from a stab wound, and the arsonist's previous fires have not harmed people. Charlotte begins to look at the open marriage of Lyle and his wife, Caroline; Lyle's business practices; and the shady activities of Caroline's lover. Though readers may wish for more journalistic fact-finding by Charlotte instead of accidental stumbling over information, the reporter's penchant for encouraging the aspirations of a local girl, hanging out with the town madam, snooping in neighbors' houses, and employing hairpins as lock picks will satisfy.