Things are looking up for the beleaguered Alaska State Trooper Sergeant Liam Campbell (Nothing Gold Can Stay, 2000, etc.). For one thing, he’s been promoted back up to Sergeant. For another, he’s infatuated—not with Wyanet Chouinard, the love of his life with whom he shares a cramped single bed, but with the 74-year old widow Lydia Tompkins, whom he adores from the moment she clobbers a thief with a jar of sun-dried tomatoes. As one might expect, Liam’s happiness is fleeting. His promotion came with an offer to move back to Anchorage, which would take him away from Newenham, home to Wy, her adopted son, and her business. Both of Liam’s loves falter: Wy won’t talk about the move, and Mrs. Tompkins is found murdered in her kitchen. Apart from the clobbered would-be thief still in custody, who would have wanted to kill the charming old lady? Her four children seem grief-stricken but odd, especially flaky Jerry and sex kitten Karen. Then the town’s bad boys, hunting near a glacier, find an amputated arm clutching an antique gold coin. The arm appears to belong to the wreckage of a WWII Army airplane that unaccountably flew into the glacier in 1941. None other than Liam’s father, Colonel Charles Bradley Campbell, USAF, shows up on an F-11 with an FBI agent in tow to investigate the wreck.
Newenham’s past and Liam’s role in its future are all sorted out, in a taut, pleasingly complicated idyll.