Murder is the least of Nathan Active’s problems when he tangles with Alaska’s high-maintenance governor.
He may have switched from serving in the Alaska State Troopers (Village of the Ghost Bears, 2009, etc.) to being chief of public safety for the newly established Chukchi Regional Borough, but Active hasn’t moved far enough to escape the searchlight gaze of Gov. Helen “call me Suka” Mercer. Swooping down in Chukchi to cheer on her musher husband, Brad, in the Isignaq 400, she requisitions Active as her bodyguard, reminds him that his job depends largely on state money, promises funding to the women’s crisis centers run by his lover, Grace Palmer, and spirits him off aboard Cowboy Decker’s Cessna, which is promptly forced to touch down in inhospitable Shelukshuk Canyon. Obliged to share a tent with the seductive governor, Active awakens next morning to find her face mysteriously scratched before they’re rescued and everything is fine. Everything, that is, except for the death of Pete Wise, an alcoholism counselor who went to school with Suka years before she moved into the governor’s mansion and he got fatally struck by a snowblower. When the evidence leads Active to Brad Mercer, he finds that the governor’s a distinctly fair-weather friend. And a shocking allegation by Wise that survives his death puts a full-court press on Active, who finds himself alternately propositioned by the governor and threatened by her with the loss of his job and his reputation, not to mention that funding for Grace’s crisis centers.
The delightfully off-speed Alaska lore—the authorities offer two free nights in jail for information about the missing snowblower—is supplemented this time by a compelling portrait of a female Alaskan governor too monstrous to be anything but wholly fictitious.