Alaska is a great place to visit… and a bad place to die It is said that when the first snow of early winter—the "termination dust"—starts to fall, it's time for visitors to leave Alaska's wonders behind. For some, it's already too late. Jim Hampton's Yukon vacation takes a turn for the worse when he discovers a prospector's diary from the 1800s. And it dies when the rugged outdoorsman is arrested for the gruesome slaying of a controversial ex-Senator. But Alex Jensen isn't convinced of Hampton's guilt. And the dedicated state trooper is ready to track the bitter truth through the treacherous snows of the Yukon wilderness—and in the pages of a mysterious, hundred-year-old journal, which describes crimes remarkably similar... and deadly.
|Publisher:||Epicenter Press (WA)|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.58(d)|
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Late-afternoon shadows reached like fingers from the black spruce along the shore, darkening the smooth waters of a wide bend in the Yukon River. Undisturbed by rapids at this particular point, north of Dawson, Yukon Territory, the surface reflected a swirl of colors from surrounding evergreen, autumn-bronzed birch, and the faded-blue, pre-sunset sky. The raucous cry of a jay knifed through the air, turning the head of a bald eagle perched on a dead limb, waiting, patiently, silent, for a squirrel to emerge from its nearby hole. A dragonfly darted in Zs over the surface of the water, well above the reach of any ambitious fish.
A small, rhythmic splashing drew the eagle's attention once again from its objective, this time upriver of the south to north curve of dark water. Out of the shadows and into a last remaining streak of sunlight floated a red canoe with a single passenger, drifting with the current.
Raising a hand, the paddler shaded his eyes from the late glare of the sun, sighting ahead to make out the narrow line of a thin sandbar coming into view on the right. Protected by the bar was a bit of flat, pebble-strewn beach that looked just wide enough for a campsite. A trickle of a stream ran over it into the river, complaining quietly to the unevenness of its bed.
A strong, expert pull on the paddle corrected the direction of the canoe and sent it gliding toward the rind of beach. When the bottom grated gently on small stones, the canoeist did not move for a minute, but laid the paddle across the gunwales and leaned forward on his braced arms, assessing this choice. Judging it acceptable, he rose, stepped out,and carefully lifted the craft far enough from the river so there was no chance of its floating away without him.
Removing a floppy-brimmed mimed hat and clasping a wrist behind his head with the opposite hand, Jim Hampton stretched to relieve the tension in his strong, muscular shoulders and arms, then ran a hand through the sandcolored waves of his hair and yawned. Pleasantly tired, he was pleased with his progress and appreciative of the wilderness he was discovering. It had been a good day of travel on this unfamiliar river.
Just under six feet tall, he was fit and even-featured, though his hair was beginning to recede slightly from his temples and a few gray strands silvered it. This secretly satisfied him, for through most of his thirties he had been embarrassed to appear younger than he really was. With the slight widening of his forehead and touch of gray, he knew he looked more his age and that it was not unbecoming. Even the creases developing around his eyes were not unwelcome, for they hinted at laughter and hours of looking over the glare of sun-bright waters.
Canoeing the headwaters of the Yukon River, gold-rush country, was a thing he had wanted to do for years. Working construction in the Denver area left him little extra time during the summer season, but this year he had taken it anyway. Late in August he had loaded the canoe in his truck and driven the long road north to Whitehorse. There he had left the canoe, driven three hundred and twentyseven miles to Dawson, parked the truck, and caught a return ride with a trucker. Then for a week he had paddled the winding course of the river and the lakes it passed through, back to the famous gold-rush community.
When he learned that only two more days would take him as far as the Forty-Mile River and the termination of a scrap of road at the old settlement of Clinton Creek, he couldn't resist seeing more of a country with which he was rapidly falling in love. Arranging to be picked up
there by a Dawson resident who knew the area, he extended his trip. Though it was late in the season, the Top of the World Highway would be open until it snowed, usually later in September or even early October. It ran over a pass as high as four thousand feet along a crest of the mountains between Alaska and the Yukon Territory, and the spectacular scenery alone would be worth the effort.
This night he was exceptionally glad he had yielded to impulse. The day had been gloriously sunny with a cool reminder of fall in the air, and the Yukon had changed character with the influx of several rivers and streams that broadened and added a deep feeling of power to its heavy waters. Though it was nowhere near the mighty, milewide Yukon it would become by the time it neared the coast of Alaska on its fifteen-hundred-mile ran, it had already gained authority and the spirit of a major waterway.
Half a day in the town of Dawson, with its gold-rush atmosphere, gambling casinos, and dance-hall girls, had been amusing and interesting historically. It had also allowed him to add a few fresh groceries to his supplies, but it was good to be back on the river. He loved being alone on a new river more than any activity he could imagine. In the previous ten years he had been on many in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, but in this first trip on northern waters he found deep satisfaction from his own pleasure in it.
Swinging around to look back toward the river, he was just in time to watch the eagle launch itself in a deadly silent dive that ended with the faint shrill of the squirrel; dinner, deftly caught and clutched in razor talons as the raptor glided away into the trees. Turning back to the canoe, Hampton began to unload his gear. With little more than an hour of daylight left, he knew he would have to work steadily to have his camp organized as he wanted it and firewood collected before dark. His own dinner would be appreciated, though he had no intention of catching it.
With a little steel wool, twigs and dry grass for kindling, and a few splinters of driftwood, he quickly lit a small fire in a circle of rounded river rocks. Carefully...Termination Dust. Copyright © by Sue Henry. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Termination Dust is the second book in Sue Henry's series on Jessie Arnold, set in Alaska. This book is set in the Yukon, ok, it isn't Alaska. When the book opens, Jim Hampton is kayaking in the Yukon River. En route, he discovers a body and a few artifacts dating back to the 1890s. Among these items, is a diary of a gold miner heading for the Klondike gold rush and a few nuggets of gold. Part of this book is uncovering the events of the miner and what became of his gold. Next, Jim is attacked by two men in a zodiac who destroy his kayak and steal his gear. Jim makes camp, but when he wakes, there are two policemen, a dead body, and most of his gear is back. All the evidence points to Jim as the murderer, but he has no motive. Termination dust is an Alaskan term for the first light dusting of snow on the mountains. This is taken as a sign of the big snows to come. Both stories see this moment come and pass. I enjoyed the story a lot, but felt it could have been more. I kept expecting more from the historical story. It was pretty obvious who dunnit, especially that Jim hadn't. And the evidence seemed to hinge a lot on a simple error by the guilty. But it is still a very enjoyable read. As a bonus, the last chapter of the book is the full diary of the gold miner, Addison Harley Riser. It is an enjoyable tale in its own right.
I liked the Yukon setting and the story. I thought the main characters were kind of bland. I always like a mystery-in-a- mystery. This one has a gold rush era story going on as well.
Although Termination Dust is in the Jessie Arnold series, she's a relatively minor character in this installment until the end. Her boyfriend Alex Jensen is assisting Inspector Charles Delafosse of the Royal Mounted Canadian Police in the Yukon Territory with a crime that is crossing the international border. When a body is found at a camp site along the Yukon River, the chief suspect is American so Delafosse invites Alex to remain to assist in the investigation. It's approved by Alex's superiors. Something doesn't quite ring true about the whole investigation. The evidence seems to point to Jim Hampton, the suspect found at the camp site, but there are enough inconsistencies that they keep investigating. Hampton had found a diary from the 1897 Gold Rush, and Hampton and Jensen are both intrigued by it. While the installment got off to a slow start, it picked up pace and kept me wanting to find "whodunit." There were several red herrings to keep the reader second guessing themselves. The diary is printed at the end of the book.
The book is in very good condition but was listed as "hard back". In fact it's not much better than a paper back. I'm a little disappointed but will still enjoy Ms Henry's novel. Quick shipping!