cover image Alaska Gray

Alaska Gray

Susan Froetschel. St. Martin's Press, $20.95 (260pp) ISBN 978-0-312-11233-2

This first novel gets off to a long, slow start, hinting at mysteries that gain momentum only late in the story. Financial analyst Jane McBride, 34, hopes her new job in Sitka, Alaska, as director of finance for struggling Katmai Shee, Inc., will provide a fresh start after her divorce in Boston. But she receives a chilly welcome: first an anonymous caller warns her to ``leave Sitka before it is too late,'' and then she learns her position has been eliminated. Captivated by Alaska's scenery, Jane stays and lands a job teaching at the local college, and then an intruder tosses her room, ruining books, floppy disks and her monitor. Nevertheless, she settles in, using her expertise to help a new acquaintance, Katmai board member Francesca LaQuestion, assess a proposed project for the company, and finding pleasure in local art displayed in the college's small museum. Other activities include snooping when a college student dies mysteriously and uncovering a scam someone will kill to keep quiet. While she clearly depicts the physical and social milieus of her promising debut, Froetschel, formerly a newspaper reporter in Sitka, muddies the mystery's narrative by obscuring the clues. (Oct.)