Murder on the Yukon Questby Sue Henry
Jessie and her team of dogs are competing in the toughest dog sled race in the world-the Yukon Quest. Alone in the vast white wilderness, she's suddenly facing a danger worse than anything Nature has to offer. A young novice racer she met at the start of the race is abducted, and the girl's frantic father is warned that no one but Jessie Arnold is to be told or the girl will die.
Jessie's in the competition of a lifetime as she forges ahead in a desperate race against an unknown kidnapper who will stop at nothing. Speeding through the twists and turns of the icy, broken trails, Jessie has no time for fear. For somewhere in that lonely landscape, a killer waits for a chance to unleash his murderous rage on anyone who dares to get in his way.
"Suspenseful, intelligent, and filled with the spectacular beauty of the northern wilds..."
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Read an Excerpt
"It was clear and cold The aurora borealis painted palpitating color revels on the sky. Rosy waves of cold brilliancyswept across the zenith, while great coruscating bars of greenish white blotted out the stars."Jack London, "A Daughter of the Aurora"
Jessie Arnold haulted her team and stomped in the snow hook to secure the sled, though as far as they had come and this late on a chill mid-January night there was little chance that her dogs would proceed without an encouraging word from their driver. They had traveled almost two hundred miles in two days and nights of regular alternating stages-four hours of travel, four hours of rest-with one longer, six-hour camp and a few short pauses. With an important distance race-the Yukon Quest, from Whitehorse, Yukon, to Fairbanks, Alaska-coming up the next month, she was scheduling her training to adjust both the dogs and herself to the extended rotations of running that would be required.
The Yukon Quest was Alaska's second most important distance race and Jessie had decided to try it for the first time, forgoing her usual participation in the Iditarod, for the two were very close together on the calendar and it would have been difficult to run them both.
She was looking forward to testing herself on a new race, and the Quest had established a reputation as the toughest sled dog race in the world, because of the extremes in temperature and terrain experienced by its participants. The route would take Jessie and the rest of the racers over more than a thousand miles of the most remote, inhospitable region of North America in the heart of winter, measuring theirability, raw courage, and sheer will with temperatures that often fell between -30° and -50°.
Jessie was particularly interested in traveling this race route because the relentless, demanding trail would trace the same trails used during the Alaskan and Yukon gold rushes, which had been natural and vital links for mail and freight mushers between communities during this era. The race would also be a challenge because the participants were only allowed to use one sled for the trip, like the mushers who had traveled the early mail routes and repaired their own sleds, if damaged. The Quest would therefore also test the self-sufficiency of each modem musher, leaving some cursing the unrepairable fragments and splinters of their transportation, often nursing their own injuries.
The trail Jessie and her team would run passed through fewer checkpoints than the Iditarod, with greater distances between them, and would include long stretches on the unforgiving Yukon River, the "Highway of the North," its icy surface often repeatedly broken and refrozen into a jumble of ice blocks the size of boxcars as it settled into winter immobility. Three extreme summits higher than any on the Iditarod would have to be crossed, and as she paused with her team on this training run, she was thinking about confronting the physical and mental challenges of this new race.
From his place at the front of the team, Tank, her lead dog, looked back as if wondering why they were stopping so close to home, then lay down in the snow. Two of the young dogs in the team remained on their feet for a minute or two, but, like the veterans, soon relaxed in their places, taking advantage of the pause to rest.
They're adapting fast, Jessie thought, generally pleased with the response of these twelve huskies to the extended training run they were about to complete. Opening the sled bag, she retrieved a large insulated container of warm water mixed with vitamins, electrolytes, and the food scraps left from a feeding at the last four-hour rest stop. When each dog had been given a metal pan of this tempting liquid, she watched to be sure they were all drinking thirstily, then took a bag of high-energy dog snacks and moved along the line to give some to each, along with a minute or two of individual attention.
"Good dog, Bliss. Good girl. Hey, Sunny. You hungry, Wart? Oh ... just want that magic spot behind your ears scratched, yes? Okay. All right, Darryl, I'm coming. How about your other brother, Darryl? Here you go, pups."
The two wheel dogs, who ran closest to the sled, were littermates named for the pair of Darryls on the old Bob Newhart television show, and were often referred to simply as One and Two. They looked so much alike it was hard to tell which was which, though Jessie knew that Darryl Two had darker ears and was more inclined to wolf his food. Very much a people dog, he greeted her with an affectionate lick on the hand as she presented his snack.
"Kisses for the pack leader? Thanks. Good job today, guys. Good dogs."
Replacing the supplies, she pulled the big fur mittens that reached almost to her elbows over a thinner pair of wool gloves that protected her fingers when the mittens weren't on. Nothing was as warm as fur, and they hung -on an idiot string around the neck of her parka, where they would not be accidentally, disastrously lost. With the dark, which came in midafternoon this time of year, the temperature had dropped below zero and was still falling. Jessie was extremely careful to keep her hands warm, exposing them as little as necessary, but much of the work of caring for the dogs and herself could not be done in the clumsy mitts. Wiggling her fingers to encourage circulation, she left the team and turned to look around her.
The headlamp she wore revealed a trail well packed by the many mushers in the Knik area who used it for training, all of whom did their part to keep it groomed. Beyond her light the ghostly white trunks of the tall birches that lined the trail faded into the dark on either side, branches bereft of leaves until spring.
Meet the Author
Sue Henry - Anthony and Macavity Award Winner, her first Jessie Arnold mystery, Murder on the Iditarod Trail, won both the Anthony and Macavity Awards for Best First Novel. She also writes the Maxie McNabb mysteries. Henry is a former college administrator and has lived in Alaska for 30 years. She spends much of her spare time RVing around the Lower Forty-Eight or researching Alaska.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I think this is a very good book that has to do with the Alaskan mushers and how enduring a Yukon Race can be. I like Jessie Arnold character and her fellow relationship with the state trooper. The only thing to improve is the ending which couldve been much happier but the book is a very fast read.
Up to this novel, my favorite mystery by Sue Henry was 'Murder on the Iditarod Trail' so I was happy to see a return to sled dog racing. This story is equally entertaining. I grew up in the Yukon so I enjoyed reading descriptions of its natural beauty and danger. In between dog nappings and murder, this story is entertaining and exciting. I also enjoyed the further relationship developments between Alex and Jessie. I suspect many women can relate to the predicament which Jessie must face. I am anxiously awaiting the next novel in this series.