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Cold Company (Jessie Arnold Series #9)

Cold Company (Jessie Arnold Series #9)

4.5 4
by Sue Henry

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Multiple award-winning author Sue Henry takes us into the heart of America's last frontier with a gripping tale of suspense set in a rugged land that appeals to the adventurous and strong ... and to those who are drawn to darkness.

Famed Alaskan "musher" Jessie Arnold thinks she's finally put her dark past behind her. But the excavations on her new cabin unearth


Multiple award-winning author Sue Henry takes us into the heart of America's last frontier with a gripping tale of suspense set in a rugged land that appeals to the adventurous and strong ... and to those who are drawn to darkness.

Famed Alaskan "musher" Jessie Arnold thinks she's finally put her dark past behind her. But the excavations on her new cabin unearth a decades-old skeleton entombed in a crumbling basement wall — along with a butterfly pendant necklace worn by the alleged victim of a brutal serial slayer who preyed on area women twenty years earlier.

Pulled once more into a murder investigation against her will, Jessie fears a grim, half-forgotten nightmare has been reborn. For, in this stark and lonely place, in the first days of the all-too-brief Alaskan summer, another woman has disappeared without a trace. The signs suggest the unthinkable: an insatiable human monster has returned. And the clues she's uncovering hint that Jessie Arnold may well be his next victim.

Editorial Reviews

Charleston Post and Courier
“Sue Henry is an agile writer...hard to put down.”
Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Real thrills set against the wild beauty of Alaska.”
Dallas Morning News
“Suspenseful, intelligent, and filled with the spectacular beauty of the northern wilds.”
Baltimore Sun
“Wonderfully evocative.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Henry revels in the wilderness of Alaskan scenery and keeps the tension mounting. . . . A fine adventure.”
Anchorage Daily News
“Henry has once again succeeded in crafting an engrossing mystery that...keeps the reader well-occupied.”
Denver Post
“The twists and turns keep you turning the pages . . . a thoroughly good read.”
Washington Post Book World
“Twice as vivid as Michener’s natural Alaska, at about a thousandth the length.”
Oklahoma City Oklahoman
“A gripping mystery.”
Publishers Weekly
Alaskan musher Jessie Arnold has certainly used up more than nine lives even before the start of this ninth solid adventure in a series that has won both Anthony and Macavity awards. Fiercely independent and self-reliant to a fault, Jessie must confront inner fears as well as outside dangers as she sets about rebuilding her home (gutted in 2000's Beneath the Ashes) and restructuring her life (after a breakup that occurred in the same novel). First a skeleton turns up in the excavation of her new cabin site; then a possible link is found to murders committed decades earlier by Alaska's most notorious serial killer, Robert Hansen. Hansen's victims, some of whom were never found, had been buried along the nearby Knik River. Soon not only the cabin construction crew but forensic and police investigators, plus a relative of one of Hansen's victims still searching for answers, are prowling the wild and remote Knik Road that leads to Jesse's property. As murders new and old begin to unfold, Jesse has to learn to rely on others as well as on her own substantial survival skills to surmount human and natural pitfalls. One of the hallmarks of Henry's series is the beautiful and rugged Alaskan landscape, and she has never used it more effectively than she does here, as spring sets in motion new discoveries. And Jesse's continuing voyage of self-discovery should thrill old fans as well as expand her growing audience in the lower 48. (June 4) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Jessie Arnold's (Dead North) discovery of an old skeleton beneath her home sets her on the years-old trail of an infamous serial killer. When another woman disappears, Jessie's hunt becomes critical. A certain crowd-pleaser. [See Dana Stabenow's A Fine and Bitter Snow, reviewed below, which features that other Alaskan sleuth, Kate Shugak. Ed.] Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Jessie Arnold, Alaskan musher and frequent target of sick serial killers (Dead North, 2001, etc.), is looking forward to helping the construction crew that's building her new log cabin. Gloating over the freshly dug hole for the basement, however, she sees something distinctly unconstructive in the dirt: a dead body. It's the corpse of an old man, perhaps James O'Dell, the former owner of her property and the uncle of the man who sold it to Jessie. Though he seems to have died of natural causes, Jessie can't help wonder why he's buried in an unmarked grave on his own land. As if old flesh and a new cabin weren't enough to keep Jessie busy, a recently murdered young woman, apparently the victim of a murderer imitating real-life serial killer Robert Hansen, turns up nearby. When the sister of one of Hansen's victims shows up at Jessie's place, hoping to find her long-lost sister, her quest strikes close to home for Jessie. She investigates, leaving general contractor Vic Prentice and his crew-taciturn Dell, flirtatious J.B., and energetic Stevie, along with Jessie's friend Hank Peterson-to do most of the work themselves. Meantime, someone starts leaving Jessie single red roses. It's not the kind of thing she'd expect from her old boyfriend, nor from her new love interest, musher Lynn Ehlers. Deadly pursuits over and under a glacier finally disclose the culprit. Henry delivers the usual suspense and an unusually high body count in this stolid, not very mysterious, outing.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Jessie Arnold Series , #9
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.84(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Spring was making itself heard in the Chugach Mountains south of the Matanuska Valley in Alaska. Among the bright new leaves of birch and the dark branches of spruce that shared the flats below the Knik Glacier, the songs of resident and migrating birds resounded. Swallows, thrushes, siskins, and warblers flitted through the trees, and joyful chirps of celebration filled the newly warm air of the season. Kingfishers and crows punctuated the chorus in raucous lower tones. Infrequently, from its perch on a tall spruce, a raven dropped an unusual bell-like tone or injected a grumpy complaint into the chorus, resentful of the invaders that now intruded on a territory it had claimed all winter.

Adding to the cacophony, melt from snow that had slowly receded to the rocky slopes of the high peaks above the tree line on both sides of the valley provided sustained background music in dozens of streams and waterfalls. Runoff poured down steep hillsides, tumbling pebbles with gleeful burbles and cleaning out last year's hoard of fallen leaves in its rush to join other rivulets in carving larger, deeper furrows into lower ground. Cutting through the gravel and sand of long-departed ice fields, ribbons of water twisted their way into the upper reaches of the Knik River, raising its flow to cover bars and banks the cold months had left dry and bare.

High above the river flats, beyond the steep flank of Mount Palmer, the Knik Glacier rose at five thousand feet in a giant ever-retreating river of ice that scoured a path, grinding away at the mountains through which it ran, moving inexorably ifimperceptibly, sculpting out a channel between the ridges. Each winter's cold slowed its motion, and snow added to its bulk. Still it moved forward into the river valley at an angle that brought its foot into solid contact with the slope of Mount Palmer, forming a dam of ice that closed off part of its own melt and that of several smaller glaciers that surrounded Lake George immediately to the west.

In the spring, when the snow and ice began to melt again, this dam contained the resulting water, which backed up and gradually filled the lake until it extended far beyond its winter boundaries. As summer set in and the weather grew warmer, the glacial dam would become unstable and periodically calve away in great towers of dense ice hundreds of feet tall, which would fall crashing into the lake with a roar that reverberated between the peaks.

Where glacier and mountain met to form the dam, water was already gradually finding its way into a narrow crack between the two. Just a few drops followed each other through the opening first, melting ice as they ran, widening the passage until their drip became a trickle. Soon it would be a stream. Then, finally, with a huge grinding rumble, the weight of thousands of gallons of water would become too much for the weakening dam and break it apart. Carrying chunks of the ice that had contained it, floodwater would pour into the valley below with a force that had been known to tear out the bridges and roads of early settlers. In March of 1964, the strongest earthquake ever recorded in North America severely shook South Central Alaska and altered the Knik River Valley terrain enough to moderate the yearly flood and lessen its force. The water still broke through with a roar that shook the ground and filled the river from bank to bank with roiling turbulence, but the destruction it had visited upon the works of man was reduced.

Even before this flood, however, the river rose dramatically with the spring melt and spread powerful icy waters over shallows and sandbars that had lain untouched and freeze-dried through the silent winter. Released from its ice-locked prison, the water scrabbled and clutched at stone-strewn flats with icy fingers, relearning old channels and inscribing new ones. Seizing fallen branches and logs to convey downstream, it carried some into tangles among the roots of trees that now waded in the shallows, hammered at bridge pilings with others, and finally deposited its vast collection of floating debris miles away in the salty waters of Cook Inlet.

The restless river explored the gravel of new paths with avaricious fingers, learning what was possible to steal and what lay too heavily or was too embedded for its grasping waters to pilfer. Large boulders might groan and shudder, but most lay patiently, waiting for the river to give up and fall back below their level of dignified solidity.

Other things, however, it was possible for greedy waters to loosen and, in time, sweep away. The desiccated skin and bones of a fox fell with the collapse of an undercut bank and drifted off in a swirl of sticks and leaves. Little by little, sand was scoured from around three half-buried beer cans, tossed aside by a pair of hunters the preceding October, and one by one they bobbed away, slowly filling with water until they rolled beneath the surface to bounce unseen along the riverbed. A dead tree that had hung for several seasons over the water's edge lost its tenuous hold on the earth and, with hardly a splash, fell into the current. There it revolved slowly as it was coaxed farther from shore and finally borne seaward on the flood.

Far upstream the rising river tugged at a bit of fabric on a now-submerged sandbar, uncovered as the sand and silt above it was swept away like smoke in the water. At first it was only a square inch or two of dirty cloth, but inquisitive liquid fingers soon persuaded most of a stained blue shirt from its resting place. Gradually, through the long afternoon, sand and gravel were washed away until a shape foreign to the natural surroundings was exposed. A sandal floated from a bare foot and...

Cold Company. Copyright © by Sue Henry. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Sue Henry, whose award-winning Alaska mysteries have received the highest praise from readers and critics alike, has lived in Alaska for almost thirty years, and brings history, Alaskan lore, and the majestic beauty of the vast landscape to her mysteries. Based in Anchorage, she is currently at work on the next book in this series.

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Cold Company 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dog musher Jessie Arnold has not had an easy time of it lately. Four months ago, she broke up with her significant other, State Trooper Alex when he moved to Idaho and she didn¿t want to leave Alaska nor commit to a marriage when she guarded her independence. Three months ago, a serial arsonist burnt down her log cabin located in a remote area eight miles from the small town of Wasilla in Matunuska Valley.

Now that the long days of summer are nearly here, work is getting underway to build Jessie a bigger and better log cabin complete with a basement. When they excavate the hole that will house the foundation, Jessie finds a skeleton buried in one of the dirt walls. The police also find a gold butterfly pendant near the remains, which belong to the victim of one of Alaska¿s most violent serial killers. The pendant links up to a copycat killing that are going on today and Jessie finds herself once again in deadly danger.

Sue Henry brings to life the beauty and the camaraderie of living in Alaska to such a degree that readers will want to hop a plane to visit our forty-ninth state. The protagonist embodies the spirit of Alaska, a person who is fiercely independent, wants her way, and will bend but not break. The mystery itself is a well-drawn puzzle, impossible to fathom until all the pieces click neatly into place. Readers of COLD COMPANY will enjoy the latest installment in this long running series.

Harriet Klausner

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite book by Ms. Henry! I have,in fact, read it more than once, and I always enjoy it!
Debbie-V More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I am a dog lover. I also love mysteries. This fit the bill. I will definately be ordering more of her books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago