High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska
This post was sponsored by Kensington Books. The author's comments below on the novels are his own.
Most people are never more than an arm-length from civilization. They live in their apartments, suburban homes, or occasionally they live a short drive out of a town. But there are still places out there that are remote and removed enough to truly be considered the frontier. There is civilization of a sort there filled with rougher men and women for whom the questions of past – When will I eat next? Is that figure on the horizon friend or foe? Will I make it through the winter? – are real questions.
It turns out such a setting is also a great setup for a murder mystery.
Stone Cross is a new release and second in the Arliss Cutter series by Marc Cameron. Marc is a former United States Marshal and popular author of multiple series including three novels in the New York Times bestselling Jack Ryan series. Marc is also a resident of Alaska, something which adds verisimilitude to this new entry.
In this new atmospheric thriller, Cutter and his partner get assigned to protect a US Judge traveling to adjudicate a case in a remote Yupik village in western Alaska. Someone in the village has sent a letter threatening the life of the Judge and Cutter has to navigate the suspicions and resentment of the local indigenous people to protect the Judge from harm. Of course, complications ensue and it appears the safety of the Judge is only a secondary story.
The primary conflict of the novel revolves around the murder of a local handyman and the disappearance of a young husband and wife from the lodge the three of them were caretaking. Cameron's characters have their endurance tested in bringing the case to its resolution.
Stone Cross does an outstanding job of establishing a dark and foreboding place where human beings feel like visitors to something older and more primeval. Everything feels more dangerous in this novel and even the characters begin to take on the stark and sharp-edged characteristics of the setting. It is a case where the simplicity and bleakness reduces each character to primal archetypes where survival is earned rather than given.
Ultimately this book works as a stand-alone but there are strong hints of continued Alaskan adventures ahead for Arliss Cutter. Based on this strength of this novel, one would do well to go back and pick up the first novel Open Carry and be ready for inevitable future entries in this series.