Praise for Cold Storage, Alaska A Boston Globe Best Crime Book of 2014 "Straley strikes the perfect balance of humor and pathos in this story about the McCahon brothers.” —New York Times Book Review "[Straley] writes crime novels populated by perpetrators whose hearts are filled with more poetry than evil." — The Wall Street Journal "Straley isn’t prolific, but when he does publish a book it’s a gem... The crime aspect of 'Cold Storage, Alaska' is pretty casual. Straley’s mostly interested in his characters and how they interact on a personal level... It’s always a pleasure to read Straley’s vivid studies of these folks — the slightly cracked, rugged and very funny characters of the Far North." — The Seattle Times “Thoroughly enjoyable and slightly wacko... Dashes of magical realism mixed with ironic humor reminiscent of the Coen brothers and violence worthy of Quentin Tarantino make this second series novel a winner. Compelling characters and deft treatment of themes like redemption and the power of community take it to a level beyond.” —The Boston Globe “Lesser writers look to their characters’ poor choices and attempts to rectify them, John Straley loves his characters for just those choices. Hölderlin wrote: 'Poetically man dwells on the earth.' Some of us wind up in limericks, some in heroic couplets. But damned near every one of us, sooner or later, ends up in one of Straley’s wise, wayward, wonderfully unhinged novels.” — James Sallis, author of Drive and the Lew Griffin mysteries “What a warm, engaging, profoundly human book this is: its skin crackling, its heart enormous and open. It's a mystery with judicious blasts of violence and dread, but it opens also onto the bigger mysteries—of community, of family, of place. The several lives that intertwine throughout the story reach moments of quiet grace that resonate stealthily but deeply.” — John Darnielle, lead singer of The Mountain Goats and author of Wolf in White Van "[ Cold Storage, Alaska] is part crime story, part screwball comedy, peopled with characters you long to spend more time with. " (UK) —Daily Mail "Surprisingly moving... Straley’s lean prose and snappy dialogue — not to mention the book’s few scenes of swift, hard-boiled violence — will likely remind many readers of Elmore Leonard’s classic crime novels." — Richmond Times-Dispatch “Kind, smart and deeply moving... ‘Cold Storage, Alaska’ is certainly a wild mystery in the vein of Elmore Leonard's ‘Get Shorty’ years or all of Carl Hiaasen, it is just as much an homage to small towns and the people who fill them. What elevates Straley above so much of the competition is how very much he cares about the people and places he writes about.” —Alaska Dispatch “John Straley’s Cold Storage, Alaska is a snapshot of the USA, with its faults and struggling possibilities. Comic, engrossing, exotic yet familiar, it’s precise to the place and its feel, keen on character and foible, full of lore and history, and rich in little off-to the-side sightings of trees, winds, waves, birds and mammals… Over the top good.” , —Gary Snyder Pulitzer Prize winning author of Turtle Island “A story of a town with nothing much to offer but rain, salmon fishing, drink and gossipbut that's plenty for Straley to work with. Cold Storage may be "a town that gloried in [its] bad habits... clinging to the side of the mountains with no roads, no cars, and virtually no sense of the outer world," but in Straley's hands, it is rich in character, music, humor and compassion.” —Shelf Awareness, Starred Review "Straley, author of The Big Both Ways, has created a wonderfully evocative place in Cold Storage. His evocation of nature and human nature approaches the lyrical, and he seems guided by Faulkner’s dictum that the only thing truly worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself." —Booklist, Starred Review “An in-depth look at small-town life... If you think winter in St. Louis is uncomfortable, try winter in ‘Cold Storage, Alaska.’” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch “Fast-paced and funny as hell.” —BookRiot "If you've never been to Alaska, this novel will take you to its wilderness and small town areas in a most convincing manner. If you have been to Alaska, you will feel very at home in the pages of this diverting novel." —Deadly Pleasures “The cast of eccentric characters, the sharp, witty dialogue, and the chaotic, frenzied pace of the narrative would do Preston Sturges proud… Those who like their crime with a healthy side of humor could hardly do better... Quirky, funny and compulsively readable.” —Kirkus “Like the Coen brothers on literary speed, John Straley is among the very best stylists of his generation. Col d Storage, Alaska is truly stunning, poetic, and smart.” — Ken Bruen, Shamus Award winning author of The Guard “The nature of small-town life is perfectly rendered here, as are the wonders of coastal Alaska... [For] those who appreciate an unusual location and set of characters in their mysteries.” — Library Journal “Don't think Westlake for this caper crime novel, though; think Clyde Edgerton maybe, or a tender, kinder version of Janet Evanovich … What makes Straley (a criminal investigator in the ‘real’ Alaska) and his books stand out is the way his characters treat each other: with a reliable sense of love and awe... [A] wacky and enjoyable romp.” —Beth Kannell, Kingdom Books, Waterford, VT “Straley reveals his characters with unflinching pride and doesn’t mock or belittle their unique take on life… His description of the human condition as played out by his band of characters ranges from pathetic to amazingly humorous… A joy to read.” — The Durango Herald “ Cold Storage, Alaska is by turns funny, serious, frightening, philosophical, exaggerated... and intimate. It is filled with odd situations and the kind of offbeat characters that keep your attention glued to the page... [A] very special read.” —Kittling Books “Straley gives us an Alaskan town frozen in time and in its ways; and then, by masterful degrees, he shows us its vibrant, violent thaw.” —Sam Alden, author of It Never Happened Again “Readers will enjoy spending time with the eccentric residents of Cold Storage.” —Publishers Weekly "Poetic...like so many exceptional works in this genre, Cold Storage, Alaska shows that extreme circumstances can occasionally force people to be stronger and more resilient than they thought possible. Straley accomplishes all of this with a bare minimum of violence and not a serial killer in sight.” —Kirkus Reviews Blog “[A] delightful, fast-moving novel packed with colorful misfit characters… Straley's talented prose leaves the reader with a smile on his face, eagerly awaiting the next installment in this series.” —Nancy Simpson-Brice, Book Vault, Oskaloosa, IA “[ Cold Storage, Alaska] has the tone of an ensemble comedy… A marriage of ‘Northern Exposure’ with ‘Waking Ned Devine.’” Anchorage Daily News — “Quirky the people of Straley's Cold Storage may occasionally be, but they are never less than real, with their struggles, their dreams, their failures and modest successes, and their binding sense of community that lightly overlays their fierce if sometimes false self-reliance… A gem of story, marvelously told, that repays the reader many times over for the reading.” The Drowning Machine — “A loving, evocative portrait of an Alaskan community full of characters whose various schemes and dreams provide plenty of forward momentum.” —Reviewing the Evidence “Speaking of literary miracles, read John Straley's new novel ‘Cold Storage, Alaska.’ It is so good. A comedy, a love story, a true-to-life small-town Alaska tale, plus there's a great dog in it. I loved it. I wish I wrote that book.” —Heather Lende, author of Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs and If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name “A quirky, fun novel, in the same vein as Tim Dorsey and Carl Hiaasen. Straley has brought together a quirky cast of characters which might well fit into any small town in America.” –Mysteries Galore “If the frigidity and minimalism of Scandinavian noir has worn you down a little, grab Cold Storage, Alaska for a lighter look at life and crime in a cold place. You may end up wanting to go there.” —Crime Fiction Lover Praise for John Straley “Chandler, Ross Macdonald, James Crumley... Straley proves once again that he is up there with the great ones.” — Chicago Tribune “Now and then a writer dares to flout the rules and in so doing, carves out a niche that belongs to him alone. John Straley's novels are like no others.” — San Diego Tribune “Like James Lee Burke, Straley transcends the genre.... Marvelous.” — The Tampa Tribune and Times
John Straley writes sweet crime novels about sad people, of whom there are plenty in
Cold Storage, Alaska…Straley strikes the perfect balance of humor and pathos in this story about the McCahon brothers…
The New York Times Book Review - Marilyn Stasio
At the start of Straley’s offbeat prequel to 2008’s The Big Both Ways, Clive McCahon (aka the “Milkman”) is released from Washington’s McNeil Island Penitentiary and heads for his hometown of Cold Storage, Alaska, after serving seven years of a 10-year sentence for drug dealing, but his problems are far from over. Aspiring Hollywood screenwriter Jake Shoemaker, his violent partner in crime, wants the large sum that Clive has squirreled away, and Jake won’t take no for an answer; Miles, Clive’s straight-arrow brother and the town’s sole medical professional, resents his return; tenacious state trooper Ray Brown doubts that Clive has gone straight; and animals have begun to talk to him. Further complications ensue when Clive opens a combination bar/church, hires a colorful band called Blind Donkey with a fascinating female bassist, and faces a wronged former employee of Jake’s. While there’s little actual mystery, most readers will enjoy spending time with the eccentric residents of Cold Storage. (Feb.)
Cold Storage is the hometown of Clive McCahon, who has just been released from a Washington State prison after serving a sentence for dealing drugs. His brother Miles, an army vet-turned-physician's assistant, still lives in the small fishing village with their aging mother. Clive heads home with a pile of money (which he is careful to point out is only what he personally earned) and a very large and willful dog. Unfortunately, his former boss in the drug business (who dabbles in screenwriting) is having cash-flow problems and sees the money as his. The arrival of these newcomers, along with a nosy, by-the-book state trooper, soon causes upheaval in Cold Storage. Clive's plan is to open a bar/church (the church part is to comply with a town ordinance that says the number of bars can't be more than the number of houses of worship). Most everyone is happy with this, but complications inevitably ensue. VERDICT The nature of small-town life is perfectly rendered here, as are the wonders of coastal Alaska. Not quite as madcap as Carl Hiassen (although there is the occasional talking animal) and not quite as hard-boiled as Michael Connelly or Elmore Leonard, Straley's (Cold Water Burning; The Woman Who Married a Bear) latest adventure in America's last frontier should appeal to those authors' fans as well as those who appreciate an unusual location and set of characters in their mysteries.—Dan Forrest, Western Kentucky Univ. Libs., Bowling Green
After serving time, a reformed drug dealer seeks peace in the small Alaskan village in which he grew up, but trouble hounds his every step. The rumor spread like wildfire up and down the boardwalk in Cold Storage, Alaska: After serving seven years for dealing cocaine, Clive "The Milkman" McCahon--brother to town medic Miles, son of town fixture Annabelle, grandson of Ellie, who opened the first bar in town with her husband--was coming back to town. He'd left 20 years ago, at the age of 15, so not a lot of people knew him. Still, the fact that someone was coming to live in the tiny village, rather than leaving to live somewhere else, was gossip-worthy enough, especially in a gossip-hungry town like Cold Storage. But Clive wasn't coming alone. For one thing, a nosy cop had been coming around, seemingly anxious to catch Clive doing something illegal. And somehow, while picking up a large quantity of cash he was pretty sure his former business partner owed him, Clive had acquired an extremely large, extremely ugly dog. And Clive's former business partner, who was less than convinced that he owed Clive any money, was bound to come looking for him--and the money--sooner or later. But the oddball residents of Cold Storage take care of their own, and Clive is as oddball as they come, especially since he's started communicating with animals. In the author's note at the end of the book, the second in Straley's ( The Big Both Ways, 2008, etc.) Cold Storage series, Straley mentions his desire to write a tribute to screwball comedy, and he has certainly done so. The cast of eccentric characters, the sharp, witty dialogue, and the chaotic, frenzied pace of the narrative would do Preston Sturges proud. Readers looking for edge-of-your-seat suspense should look elsewhere, but those who like their crime with a healthy side of humor could hardly do better. Quirky, funny and compulsively readable.