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Death Takes Passage (Jessie Arnold Series #4)

Death Takes Passage (Jessie Arnold Series #4)

4.2 12
by Sue Henry

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History is repeating itself on hundred years later on Alaska's breathtaking Inside Passage. Re-creating the famous Voyage of 1897, the Spirit of '98 is setting sail from Skagway, Alaska, en route to Seattle, Washington, carrying two tons of Yukon gold. Alaska State Trooper Alex Jensen and his love, famous female "musher" Jessie Arnold, are among the excited


History is repeating itself on hundred years later on Alaska's breathtaking Inside Passage. Re-creating the famous Voyage of 1897, the Spirit of '98 is setting sail from Skagway, Alaska, en route to Seattle, Washington, carrying two tons of Yukon gold. Alaska State Trooper Alex Jensen and his love, famous female "musher" Jessie Arnold, are among the excited participants. The Grim Reaper is a passenger as well.

Dressed in period coustoume, Gold Rush buff Alex Jensen is only too happy to be representing the Troopers on this historic journey through a giant maze of scenic straits, harbors, and inlets. But the strange disappearance — and probable death — of a crew member pulls Alex rudely back to the present. As the only law officer in the vicinity, it is now his duty to unravel a twisted skein of lies, greed, and lethal shipboard secrets — before the Spirit's fateful encounter with murderers abroad a stolen ketch writes a grim new chapter in Alaska's history.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Henry's celebration of Alaska, begun in Murder on the Iditarod Trail, continues in the fourth Alex Jensen mystery (after Sleeping Lady). Alaska state trooper Jensen and his girlfriend, Iditarod driver Jessie Arnold, embark on a cruise celebrating the centennial of the Klondike gold rush. The cruise ship carries a million dollars in gold locked away with armed guards. Jensen plans a mere ceremonial role, wearing his dress uniform and showing off his handlebar mustache, but several stateroom thefts and a crew member's disappearance force him to investigate. Meanwhile, two men steal a sailing boat; they dump the body of the owner who had died and head for a rendezvous with the cruise vessel. Then the dead body of the missing crew member is found in the freezing water, and Jensen and Arnold must decide which of their shipboard companions to trust. A wrong move could send all aboard to their deaths in the waters of the Inland Passage. The action occasionally flags, and Henry's dialogue is sometimes wooden, but Alaska's spectacular scenery, intriguing history and a well-engineered showdown should please fans of this series. Author tour. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Alaska state trooper Alex Jensen and girlfriend Jessie Arnold (Sleeping Lady, LJ 8/96) cruise down the Inside Passage as part of the 100th anniversary of the Klondike Gold Rush. When robbery and death strike the ship, Alex must investigate. More good stuff.
School Library Journal
YA--Alaska State Trooper Alex Jensen and his friend Jessie are onboard the ship Spirit of `98 as it reenacts a historic moment from the Klondike Gold Rush. However, the fact that it is not truly a vacation becomes obvious as the officer must deal with a series of severe crimes: robberies, a disappearance, murder, major theft, and a bomb. The challenges intensify before any of the mysteries are fully solved. Historical and geographical details are skillfully woven into the plot. The map and diagram help to identify the location of each scene. The cover art of a large glacier looming over the ship is symbolic of the intensity of the climax.--Claudia Moore, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Alaska State Trooper Alex Jensen returns to the past in even more ways than the one suggested by the retro title (cf. Death on the Nile, etc., etc.) when he's assigned to the Spirit of '98's Inside Passage cruise commemorating the centennial of the Alaskan Gold Rush. There'll be tours of historic local sites, period theatricals hearkening back to the 1890s, and, just for good measure, the ceremonial transporting of a ton of gold in bars, flakes, and dust. Naturally, all that gold draws the attention of a mysterious shipboard menace who pilfers golden goodies from selected passengers' staterooms, tosses suspiciously reticent Spirit staffer Julie Morrison overboard, and aims, with the help of some outside muscle, to catch the ship napping while it's isolated from radio contact in the Grenville Channel. How serious are these guys? A couple of minor-league confederates have already stolen a sailboat and dispatched the luckless owner (the discovery of the floating corpse by the Spirit crew is only the most convenient of several whopping coincidences), and the ringleaders intend to blow up the Spirit as soon as they've off- loaded the swag. Despite a boatload of nondescript suspects who remain as remote as the majestic natural backdrops, Henry (Sleeping Lady, 1996, etc.) keeps the intrigue swirling and the tension mounting with a program of threats, mysteries, and great scenery as varied as anything in a tour director's bag of tricks, in what may be her best outing yet.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Jessie Arnold Series , #4
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.88(d)

Read an Excerpt

Death Takes Passage

By Sue Henry

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright ©2006 Sue Henry
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0380788632

Chapter One

1:30 A.M.
Friday, July 11, 1997
Juneau/Douglas, Alaska

The moon was almost full, but clots of clouds scudding darkly overhead persistently obscured it, allowing only infrequent and mottled patches of pale light to relieve the blackness of the waters of Gastineau Channel. It had risen just after midnight, from behind the tall, sharp peaks that rose on the eastern side of that slim arm of the sea like a wall. It would soon disappear, along with the few stars that slipped in and out of view.

The late breeze had quickened into a wind, which sighed through the evergreens on a small bill that stood between the Douglas Island boat harbor and the channel. The hill sheltered the small marina from the winter gales that frequently whipped the confined seas of the channel to an icy froth, driving injudicious vessels desperately toward any possible berth. This July wind, however, would more gently blow itself out under the curtains of rain promised by the threatening clouds. It was not unusual weather for the Southeast Alaskan Panhandle -- lush, green, and intensely alive, home to rain and fog.

Within the harbor, no one noticed when one ketch began to slowly, silently swing away from the dock. It gradually came about and headed towardthe channel like a dark ghost, or the shadow of a huge waterbird.

The soft splash of a mishandled oar and a muffled curse revealed a man in an inflatable dinghy, rowing ahead at the end of a towline. As this smaller boat -- conveniently borrowed from another vessel -- gradually cleared the harbor, its oarsman became a brief silhouette against the navigation light that marked the harbor's entrance. His outline showed shoulders too broad to be hidden by the bulk of a dark slicker and a baseball cap with a brim that dipped and rose as he leaned to pull strongly against the weight of the water. He cast a glance over one shoulder to be certain that his line of exit from the marina was as direct and efficient as possible.

A second darkly clad man stood at the wheel in the stern of the ketch. A wiry knot of muscle, he was spare of flesh and small of frame, and the wind tugged contemptuously at the straggle of beard that thinly disguised a weak chin. Shifting his weight nervously from foot to foot, he turned once to assure himself of the continuing emptiness of the dock that fell slowly astern.

As the dinghy moved into the channel, the wind hit with enough force to make it slip southward, but the rower put more of his back and strong arms into the endeavor and managed to maintain a route that was mostly crosswise to the southerly flow of wind and tide. Ever so slowly, he pulled the boat away from the shore into open water, until the stern was completely clear. Then, with rapid and less cautious strokes of the oars, he rowed quickly back to the ketch, swung himself aboard, and left the purloined dinghy to drift away. Riding empty, high, and light, it quickly became a toy for the wind to toss, disappearing instantly into the dark.

The engine came abruptly to life, as the first man encouraged the heavy boat away from the shore and swung it to starboard, into the deep waters of the channel. Within ten minutes the two men had managed to raise a single sail. They killed the engine and were gathering silent speed, still without lights, driven south before the wind toward the confluence of Gastineau Channel, Taku Inlet, and Stephens Passage. Beyond this, if all went as planned, it would be easy to lose themselves in the giant maze of the straits, sounds, bays, arms, harbors, and inlets of the Inside Passage, making pursuit an impracticality, except, perhaps, by air.

They fully expected it would be a long time before anyone learned there was any pursuit to be mounted. The boat they had commandeered was not local. Its home port, painted on the stern below its name, was Nanaimo, British Columbia, though, with traditional courtesy, the Hazlit's Gull flew a small United States flag on its stern. It had been chosen from among the many boats that occupied the southernmost marina in the area, more than two miles from the tall bridge that connected Douglas Island with Juneau to the east, across the channel.

The two men had masqueraded as acquaintances in search of the Gull's passengers, and they had gleaned, from the harbormaster's registry, the intended length of its stay -- two weeks. Several days of careful but seemingly casual observation of the boat had told them that a young married couple owned and sailed the ketch, and that one of them -- a factor in making it their vessel of choice -- was no longer on board.

Clued by a duffel set onto the dock and a scene of affectionate leave-taking, one of the men had followed the young man to the Juneau airport and watched him catch a plane. From a casual question to the gossipy owner of a nearby boat, its watchers knew it would be several days to a week before the husband would return. By the time he reported his boat -- and wife -- missing, both would probably be as abandoned as the stolen and discarded dinghy.

Though making good time, the Gull rolled and pitched rhythmically in the rough waters of the channel. The heftier of the two men controlled it with an expertise that revealed prior experience. The older man joined his friend in the cockpit. Lowering himself into a seat, he turned to watch the lights of Juneau and its island neighbor, Douglas -- a soft reflection of light to the west -- fade in the distance.

"Can't understand why anyone would want to live in a place you can't get out of except by boat or plane," he said, cupping his hands against the wind to light a cigarette. "How long till daylight?"


Excerpted from Death Takes Passage by Sue Henry Copyright ©2006 by Sue Henry. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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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Death Takes Passage (Jessie Arnold Series #4) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Henry's abilty to wind mystery, historty and unforgetable characters into a real gripper is a true gift! I loved it!!!
sopranoIN More than 1 year ago
I love this author and I love the character Jesse Arnold. I have read a lot of the printed materials and don't remember them having so many typos. However, this is the second ebook of hers that I have read and the typos are horrid. The spelling is so bad in a couple of places that it even changes the meaning of the story. I'm going to the library to check and see if the same problems exist in the hardcovers. This time, the description of Alaska and the cruise was wonderful and I always love her plots but call me a snob or not, when there are so many typos, I lose the rhythm of the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read all Sue Henry's books I can find,always great reading,can't wait to find more books by her.
lettore1 More than 1 year ago
Bought it because I love the setting for murder mystery. I found the story and the characters fairly bland, not strong enough to compete with Stabenow's Schugak for instance in a similar setting . It is an ok read but I do not know if I'll read more form this series.
ginnyle More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this story. I couldn't put it down...kept wondering who was the "villain"? No surprise, I love all her books, but this was definitely one of the best!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoy this book and Sue Henry's other books because I lived in Alaska and travelled a lot. It is interesting to read about the places that I have seen and lived in.
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Angela2932ND More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book if you are ever so lucky as to get to take a cruise through Alaska's Inside Passage. This book is a murder-mystery aboard The Spirit of '98, a small cruise ship, commemorate the Gold Rush of 1898, sailing through the Inside Passage. Alex Jensen and his girlfriend Jessie Arnold are aboard as official representatives of the State of Alaska. Alex is asked to investigate items missing from several cabins, and then the death of one of the passengers. Eventually, the mystery is solved and the little ship saved, but for me, the real delight of this book was the voyage and the setting. It's a light, quick, pleasant read, and I'll likely look for more of Sue Henry's Alaskan mystery novels.