cover image Blown by the Same Wind

Blown by the Same Wind

John Straley. Soho Crime, $27.95 (216p) ISBN 978-1-64129-381-5

It’s 1968 in Straley’s excellent fourth novel set in Cold Storage, Alaska (after 2020’s What’s Time to a Pig?), and the remote fishing community deals with an influx of outsiders, including real-life poet and peace activist Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk, on leave from his abbey as a result of his antiwar activities; a pair of bigoted sport fishermen; and Boston Corbett, a bumbling FBI agent who has personal reasons for coming to Cold Storage. As the visitors mix with the locals, notably bar owner Ellie Hobbes, questions rise, among them: who’s responsible for the town’s recent series of petty burglaries and thefts? and why are the two sport fishermen suddenly interested in a mummified corpse known as the Old General stored in the bar’s root cellar? Serious crime, when it finally arrives, does so with unexpected violence in the form of murder, hostage taking, and a riveting sea chase during a storm. Readers looking for action will be amply rewarded, but the book’s main appeal lies in the vividly drawn characters and the author’s enchanting descriptions of the Alaskan outdoors. This thoughtful look at the politics and culture of a bygone era should win Straley new fans. Agent: Kerry D’Agostino, Curtis Brown. (Dec.)