Though Not Dead
Minotaur, Feb 1 2011, $25.99
In Alaska octogenarian Samuel “Old Sam” Dementieff dies. His friends like his niece and one time ward private detective Kate Shugak assumed “Old Sam” would live forever. Kate still believes her beloved foster father will live forever in hearts likes hers.
His death also ignites a deadly treasure hunt frenzy. Just a few years before Sam was born a flu epidemic devastated Alaska and much of the world in 1918. Years later, Sam was part of a party who found the state’s biggest gold mine, the Suulutaq which produced a legendary gold nugget that everyone seems to want to own and some are willing to kill to possess it. However, gold fever is not the only value, the survivors want with Sam’s demise. From when Sam met Dashiell Hammett, rumors spread that the writer left behind in the Aleutians an unpublished manuscript. Finally he also served in WWII as part of the Army’s Castner's Cutthroats unit while a shocked Kate learns of his many trysts. All these major events in the late Sam’s life converge with a rash of lethal crimes as Kate wonders what her cherished Old Sam meant in his will to find his father.
This is a great Alaskan mystery that fans of the Shugak saga (see A Night Too Dark) will thoroughly enjoy. The story line is fast-paced even when the plot goes back in time to key moments in Old Sam’s life that cleverly parallel major events in twentieth century Alaska. The crime frenzy makes for a fine whodunit, but the interweaving of the past makes for a great novel that readers will appreciate.