Thursday, August 13, 2009

Frozen Sun by Stan Jones

Title: Frozen Sun
Author: Stan Jones
ISBN: 9780979980374, Bowhead Press, 2008
Genre: Police Procedural, #3 Nathan Active mystery
Rating: B+

First Line: "Beautiful, wasn't she?"

I'm a tender soul. I tend to read Stan Jones' Nathan Active books in the heat of a Sonoran Desert summer while sitting in the pool. Why? Because they take place at the Arctic Circle, and the wind, snow, darkness, and booming crack of pack ice can freeze me down to the bone!

Nathan Active is an Alaska State Trooper. He is also Inupiat. (What most of us would call Eskimo.) As a child, he was adopted by a white couple in Anchorage, and this has given him rather mixed emotions about his heritage. Now he's living in the small village of Chukchi where his mother is. He has a girlfriend, Lucy Generous, and he's just been asked to begin an investigation that's going to put this relationship at risk.

High school principal Jason Palmer has asked Active to find his daughter, Grace, a former beauty queen. His search leads him halfway across Alaska, to the notorious Four Street in Anchorage all the way to the Aleutian Islands. The photos of Grace show a beautiful girl, and Active wonders why she would ultimately wind up on Four Street-- Anchorage's version of Skid Road. As he slowly gathers facts together, he has to ask himself, is Grace Palmer dead...or is she a murderer?

My rating is a bit down for this one because I knew almost from the beginning why Grace Palmer disappeared. I think I've read a few too many mysteries and have just become adept at suspecting characters' motivations. However, my educated guess took very little away from my enjoyment of this book because characters like Nathan and Lucy are so strong.

This is one of my favorite mystery series for its characterization, its plots, and its setting. Actually the setting is just as much a character in these books as Nathan Active himself. Jones provides an enthralling glimpse into a culture and a landscape that are completely different from what most of us know. He uses common Inupiat words sparingly and provides a glossary at the front of each book so that we not only know what the words mean, but we learn how to pronounce them.

If you like your mysteries strong on character and plot and with a glimpse into a landscape and culture which are very different from your own, you can't go wrong with this series by Stan Jones-- even if you have to read them in the summer like I do!


  1. I've not heard of this series before. I'm going to go a mooching :)

  2. I love the cold and got close, if not right to, The Arctic Circle this summer, so this sounds right up my alley. I will have to check out this series...

  3. I like your idea of reading about Alaska in the middle of a heat wave. I want to read this one, whatever the season. I can't recall another book set in Alaska. This seems to have the plus of good characters.

  4. Now THAT sounds like a great mystery series! Good writing and the opportunity to learn something.

  5. Nice review! I have never heard of the Nathan Active series - it sounds interesting.

  6. Bernadette--Good luck! Sometimes they can be rather difficult to find. I think that anyone who gets copies hangs onto them.

    Caite--And you're tough and won't just read them in the summer, eh?

    Margot--Characters, plot, culture and setting all come together in these. They're very well-done and I think the author deserves a lot more attention!

    Molly/Andy--I tend to like learning as I read, so this series does contain a bonus or two!

    Cathy--It is VERY interesting!

  7. I admit I'm another one who've never heard of this series, so add me to the batch of "converts!" :)

  8. This is a new series to me too, its on my wish list now!! I love series!

  9. Well this line probably won me: that you liked the book for "its characterization, its plots, and its setting. Actually the setting is just as much a character in these books as Nathan Active himself."

    This series and author are new to me too.

  10. "Swede"-- I'm more than happy to add you to the list. I hope you enjoy reading them!

    Kelly-- I hope you enjoy!

    Beth-- I love books where the setting plays a strong part in everything. Must have something to do with the fact that I live in a climate that is very much a character.


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