13 May 2011

Review: WHITE SKY, BLACK ICE, Stan Jones

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Print Length: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Crime (July 1, 2003)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001TK3AD4
  • Source: I bought it 
Product Description (Amazon)
The hero of Jones's promising first novel is Nathan Active, an Alaska state trooper. He is an Inupiat, but was given away by his mother when he was a baby, and raised by a white couple in Anchorage. Now he knows little of his background, and feels torn between two worlds. Nathan's bafflement hasn't been helped by his work assignment in Chukchi, the town in the rural northwestern corner of Alaska where he was born and where his birth mother still lives. The Inupiat townsfolk there have welcomed the opening of the Gray Wolf copper mine, as it provides jobs for young people. The number of wife-beatings and liquor-related offenses has declined dramatically. But now two local men have died in the same week, each of a gunshot wound in the throat. Locals assume that the deaths were suicides, especially as one of the young men belonged to a family whose members are subject to a curse. Nathan is not convinced that even in suicide-prone Chukchi, men don't usually shoot themselves in the Adam's apple. While this tough, gritty mystery generates only modest suspense, its exotic setting will hold readers throughout. Jones has a real knack for depicting the daily life of a small Inupiat community, and the toll that alcoholism has taken on it.

My take

The issues that surface in this crime fiction will strike chords with Australian readers, particularly those who have read Adrian Hyland's novels (DIAMOND DOVE and GUNSHOT ROAD)

Young men committing suicide is a big problem in the Alaskan Inupiat community.
The Clinton family believes it has been cursed and so, to some extent, the death of their fourth son George, by his own hand, is no surprise. But when a second body is discovered, that of Aaron, alarm bells ring. Because Aaron is in his 50s and had everything to live for. Even more oddly he has killed himself in just the same way George did, a shotgun to the Adam's apple.

The issues Stan Jones weaves into this tale - alcoholism in the Inupiat community, issues with mining as the community's economic salvation, environmental impacts, and the corruption of a local politician - al all strongly described.
A very readable novel, worth trying to find.

My rating 4.7

Nathan Active Mysteries
1. White Sky, Black Ice (1999)
2. Shaman Pass (2003)
3. Frozen Sun (2008)
4. Village of the Ghost Bears (2009)

I am going to count WHITE SKY, BLACK ICE among my books for 2011 Global Reading Challenge (#17/21), #21 in the e-book challenge and among my new-to-me authors, and for the  Canadian Book Challenge 2010-2011


    Margot Kinberg said...

    Kerrie - Thanks, as ever, for this fine review. As I read your post, I was thinking about not just the Hyland books but work by Margaret Coel and others who address some of the issues faced by indigenous communities. This one sounds really interesting!

    Bill Selnes said...

    Kerrie: I thought you would enjoy the book. The next in the series is even better. I love mysteries whose characters and plot connect so well with their setting.


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