Publishing Info: June 1, 1992 by Penguin
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 21, 2012
Kate Shugak returns to her roots in the far Alaskan north, after leaving the Anchorage D.A.'s office. Her deductive powers are definitely needed when a ranger disappears. Looking for clues among the Aleutian pipeliners, she begins to realize the fine line between lies and loyalties--between justice served and cold murder.
Breaking It Down Further: After leaving the DA’s office due to a near-death attack, Kate Shugak returns to the Alaskan bush in search of two missing persons: a Park ranger and Outsider Mark Miller, and the investigator they sent in after him Ken Dahl. When her old boss and former flame Jack shows up and also persuades her to help investigate, Kate must return home to Niniltna and reunite with her family in order to solve the mystery of the two missing gentlemen. Painting a vivid picture of Alaska along the way, the readers get an introduction to Kate’s world as she is forced back into the investigative world.
I really wanted to like this book. I really did. I’ve actually been dying to go to Alaska (and hopefully realistically will next year!) so I was extremely interested in reading a mystery that took place there. I had also been introduced to this series when I won the 18th book in this series on a GoodReads giveaway (whoops, didn’t know it was the 18th when I entered…), so I came back to the first. Sadly, I will not even come close to reading the 18th.
For the first half of the book if not more, I mostly found myself confused on what was happening and who characters were. I figured out Mark Miller mostly right off, but there Jack and Ken (even still I keep forgetting his name was Ken) were introduced at the same time and although obviously Ken was the missing one, I had trouble sorting out Kate’s relationship with each man. I think I’ve got it right when I say that she brought Ken around the family a couple times and was casually seeing him before he went missing and Jack was her former boss and more serious flame from further back. I didn’t feel like a lot of that was explained well.
I almost felt for a lot of the explanations and character descriptions, I was expected to know what the picture was in the author’s head and somehow I just really got mixed up on most things. Like, we introduce you to this guy and he and Kate talk for a while, but oh wait, he’s in a wheelchair (yes, I went back and read to make sure I didn’t miss it in the first description and there was a hint at it, but how was I to know “chair” implied “wheelchair”?) . There were other characters this happened with too just with physical descriptions. Whenever I read, somehow my mind comes up with a specific picture for how each character looks and I see the book in my head as I read. If there’s a notable physical characteristic, whether it be eye color, skin color, stance, hair, height — I need to know it so I can picture the character right! I just felt so off with most of the characters that it really distracted me. I actually felt like I was left to infer a lot of things just before they were revealed. Sure, that gives me more to think about, maybe add more depth to the book, but again, that was just something that threw me off.
Also, I felt like there were a ton of descriptions not only of a picturesque view of Alaska, but also a lot of history behind it. Seeing as how I am not a fan of history (I actually actively dislike it), the lengthy descriptions of history thew me off a lot. I’ve never been a history buff because I could never connect with dates and times and names. I connect with descriptions and geography.
Overall, maybe this book just wasn’t for me! It was certainly a different type of mystery novel, and I really wasn’t keen on the mystery at all until it was all revealed until the end. Then it kind of wrapped up the book and it was really interesting in the end. It was not a place I thought they were going to go. I felt like all of the options for a suspect had been cleared until you realize what Kate had discovered and when she puts her clues together, it’s quite a shock for the reader! The end of the book I feel really redeemed the beginning for me, but still not enough to continue the series.
Before I was done, I was going to rate it 2 stars, but the resolved mystery added a bit of “whoa” to the story that helped me enjoy it more. I think this novel was just a different style of writing that was not meant for me. I didn’t pick up on it well and found myself lost a lot of the time.