Putnam, Aug 2007, $25.95
Just under a decade ago in Juneau, he was considered one of Anchorage’s best police detectives; than a night of off duty drinking led to his shooting a twelve year old boy, who a witness claimed was unarmed. Convicted he spent seven years in prison with the end of his reputation. Freed early because the witness admitted he lied as the kid carried, he recently was exonerated, but his wife who stood by him during the trial and incarceration is divorcing him and the APD refuses to take him back. Fiftyish Nik Kane has become a private investigator.
His former boss Police Chief Jeffords hires him to find proof that Native Alaskan state legislator Matthew Hope did not kill the beautiful young assistant. All the circumstantial evidence points in his direction. As he begins to dig around the capital, his estranged son, working as a summer intern there, rejects any contact with him. Meanwhile someone wants Nik to stop his inquiry and that someone has arranged beatings of the sleuth and threatens more than just bodily harm. Nik knows he has frightened the person he assumes is the real culprit.
Juneau is a refreshing change as most Alaskan mysteries showcase the stark beauty of the state’s vast wilderness. The story line is fast-paced although the plot has been done many times before albeit in the Lower Forty-eight. Nik is an interesting acrimonious individual as he knows he needs to move past his bitterness but finds it impossible not to react with sarcasm and childish anger. Fans of Alaskan mysteries will enjoy his second escapade (see LOST ANGEL) even if he follows his gut more than the clues.