by Henry, Sue
While most modern mysteries set in Alaska concentrate on the damage done to the ecology or the strange personalities who take refuge in this arctic vastness, Sue Henry's books are more straightforward and usually more fun. In such stories as Deadfall and the Anthony Award-winning Murder on the Iditarod Trail, Henry follows in the sled and snowshoe tracks of writers like Jack London and Robert W. Service, who realized that Alaska was the last great frontier of adventure. Her characters, like champion sled-dog racer Jessie Arnold, are welcome throwbacks to a simpler period when physical challenge was a healthy way to measure self-esteem.
Jessie is testing herself in the thousand-mile Yukon Quest race, which follows the old mail trail from Whitehorse to Fairbanks, when one of the other racers is kidnapped and held for ransom. The kidnappers insist that only Jessie can deliver the money, and it has to be on the most dangerous leg of the race. Any attempt to involve the police will result in the victim's death. Of course, the worst blizzard of the year blows up just as the race gets to that point, and it goes without saying that Jessie risks herself and her beloved dog team to recover the victim and capture the bad guys. Even if the thought of somebody shouting "Mush!" fills you with silent laughter, you're sure to be gripped by Henry's ability to recreate the pleasures and perils of an arcane sport in a breathtaking landscape. --Dick Adler
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