cover image Murder on the Yukon Quest:: An Alaska Mystery

Murder on the Yukon Quest:: An Alaska Mystery

Sue Henry. William Morrow & Company, $22 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-380-97764-2

Alaska's spectacular, dangerous wilderness forms the background to Henry's engaging, if overplotted, sixth novel (after Deadfall). Professional musher Jessie Arnold is in peril, this time on the Yukon Quest, ""the toughest dogsled race in the world,"" which runs over 1000 miles from Whitehorse, Canada, to Fairbanks, Alaska. Early in the race, novice musher Debbie Todd is captured and held for $200,000 ransom. The kidnappers demand that Debbie's frantic stepfather give Jessie the money for delivery during the race, warning them both that Debbie will die if they inform the police. But Jessie secretly notifies her good friend, Inspector Charles Delafosse, before she tackles the race's most demanding leg. In a climactic finish, Jessie almost loses her life when she confronts the criminals on American Summit during a blinding blizzard. Throughout this turmoil, Jessie is also trying to sort out her feelings for her lover, State Trooper Alex Jensen, who's at his father's funeral in Idaho. Henry decorates her novel with glorious evocations of Alaska, believable characters, interesting mushing lore and deft explanations of dogsledding mechanics. But the story suffers from a thin plot that leans on obvious clues and unlikely coincidences. Nonetheless, dog lovers will enjoy it, as will those willing to forgive the faults in construction in favor of some beautiful writing. Agent, Dominick Abel. (July)