Shroud of Midnight Sun

Overview

DEATH...

Leaving behind the headaches of local law enforcement in Alaska's North Slope, Inupiat police officer Ray Attla welcomes a few days of vacation with his wife and four-year-old daughter at a resort outside of Anchorage. He doesn't, however, count on an early morning bike ride down the rocky mountain trails that sends him flying through alpine paradise, crashing into a thicket of berry brushes...and ...

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Overview

DEATH...

Leaving behind the headaches of local law enforcement in Alaska's North Slope, Inupiat police officer Ray Attla welcomes a few days of vacation with his wife and four-year-old daughter at a resort outside of Anchorage. He doesn't, however, count on an early morning bike ride down the rocky mountain trails that sends him flying through alpine paradise, crashing into a thicket of berry brushes...and landing just a few paces from a dead body.

AND DECEPTION

It looks at first that the victim fell from a ski lift, and Ray figures he'll report the accident to authorities and be on his way. It's well out of his jurisdiction, and he's determined to stay "off-duty." That plan changes when he meets the local lawman, an amiable sort who doubles as church pastor and hasn't got a clue how to proceed in a case with more questions than answers. And when Ray's little daughter, who is sensitive to traditional Eskimo ways, innocently begins to tell her daddy details of the case, Ray cannot beg off. Before long, he discovers the mysterious victim has led a murky double life of lies, adultery, mob connections, and industrial espionage. His vacation officially over, Ray walks a thin line between Feds and a dead man's dangerous secrets. A line that, if crossed, could turn this trip into Ray's last....

DEATH...

Leaving behind the headaches of local law enforcement in Alaska's North Slope, Inupiat police officer Ray Attla welcomes a few days of vacation with his wife and four-year-old daughter at a resort outside of Anchorage. He doesn't, however, count on an early morning bike ride down the rocky mountain trails that sends him flying through alpine paradise, crashing into a thicket of berry brushes...and landing just a few paces from a dead body.

AND DECEPTION

It looks at first that the victim fell from a ski lift, and Ray figures he'll report the accident to authorities and be on his way. It's well out of his jurisdiction, and he's determined to stay "off-duty." That plan changes when he meets the local lawman, an amiable sort who doubles as church pastor and hasn't got a clue how to proceed in a case with more questions than answers. And when Ray's little daughter, who is sensitive to traditional Eskimo ways, innocently begins to tell her daddy details of the case, Ray cannot beg off. Before long, he discovers the mysterious victim has led a murky double life of lies, adultery, mob connections, and industrial espionage. His vacation officially over, Ray walks a thin line between Feds and a dead man's dangerous secrets. A line that, if crossed, could turn this trip into Ray's last....

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380798735
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/1/2000
  • Series: Inupiat Eskimo Mysteries Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.87 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Read an Excerpt

THE DEAL CLOSED on Friday evening at 6:27, pens assaulting documents with swift, taut precision. There was a sober pause, fourteen eyes studying the contract that had been on the table, in one form or another, for almost seventy-two hours. An unvoiced question hung in the air: Was this a marriage made in heaven or in hell?

The spell was broken when the first chair slid back. Others followed. Stiff bodies rose. Faces contorted, smiling, yawning, sighing in resignation and relief. Handshakes were exchanged, files gathered, briefcases repacked and snapped shut.

At 6:31 the door opened and a young lady swept into the room, a gleaming silver platter balanced gracefully at shoulder level. The platter bore an attractive arrangement of thin-stemmed glasses, flowers, and two perspiring bottles of Dom Perignon. Before she could set it on the table, the bottles were snatched away, the corks released. Bubbly froth spilled to the carpet. The glasses were filled generously, recklessly, droplets of champagne splashing to the table like golden tears. Someone called out a toast. "To the deal!"

Thirty seconds later, a phone buzzed. A cellular. Heads bobbed, checking breast pockets and satchels. When he determined that it was his cellular, he excused himself and stepped to the corner of the conference room. He had to take this call. This was the call.

Swallowing hard, he flipped the device open. "Hello?"

The noise level was escalating, the other six men venting the stress of three long, difficult days of tooth-and-nail negotiations. Snippets of Japanese and English merged into anindistinguishable din.

He cupped a hand around the phone, straining to hear. "Hello?"

Someone noticed his plight and called for silence.

Suddenly the room was quiet. Uncomfortably quiet. Robbed of conversation, the men stood watching him, as if he were about to perform a feat of magic. He waved them off, frowning to assure them that the hush was unnecessary.

It was at that moment, before the others had resumed their celebratory mood, that the message was delivered.

He nodded, silently indicating that he understood, as if the speaker could discern this via the telephone line. A tap of his thumb extinguished the phone. He calmly folded it shut, stuffed it into a jacket pocket, and followed the others as they trailed out of the room.

A motion for drinks was made. This was seconded by animal calls and hoots. It was decided that they would meet in thirty minutes in the bar to launch an offensive against the hotel's supply of liquor.

He stood with them at the elevator, chuckled absently as one of the Japanese told an off-color joke. When the doors opened and they filed on, he made his apologies, begging off for the night by complaining of indigestion and fatigue. The others pleaded with him, reminding him that there was a nursing conference taking place in the hotel. This was met by a chorus of wolf whistles. The party would be wild, he was assured.

Resisting their efforts, he wished them well and went to his room. There he removed his tie, changed out of his suit, into a pair of Dockers, a polo shirt, a thin jacket. He sat at the table by the bed and wrote his wife a letter on hotel stationery. It was short, less than a page, and he left it open on the desk. After withdrawing a small manila envelope from his briefcase, he folded it, slid it in a jacket pocket, donned a pair of Rockports.

He checked his watch: almost seven. He would have to hurry. Jogging down the back stairs, he hit the roll bar and exited into a glare of light. The sun was balanced on the crest of a mountain to the west, as low as it would sink in its trek along the horizon.

The parking lot was nearly full, the majority of the vehicles bearing stickers from Avis, Hertz, and Budget. He picked out his white Ford from among the rows of white rental cars, got in, and started the engine. The tires squealed as he raced out of the lot.

The clock on the dash read 6:57. His watch gave the time at 6:53. He hoped his watch was right. Stepping on the gas, he urged the Ford south, toward the resort.

Two minutes later he skidded to a halt in an unpaved parking area and leapt out of the car. He left the keys in the ignition and locked the doors. Sprinting past the lodge and up the trail, he was relieved to find the lift still operating: chairs floating up the slope before disappearing into a thick, overgrown carpet of berry bushes and stunted evergreens.

As he approached the lift house, the attendant, a scruffy-looking kid in his early twenties with the burnt bronze complexion of a surfer, shook his head at him, muttering something about having just missed it, that the lift had closed at seven.

A twenty-dollar bill brought a change of mind. The kid waved him to the loading area.

Panting from the effort, he stood on the thick white line, awaiting the next chair. It hit him in the back of the knees, scooped him up, and accelerated skyward.

The kid called after him, reminding him to catch a ride down by 7:30 sharp.

He nodded, intent upon ignoring the directive. Ushered up the mountain on the high-speed quad, he was struck by the majesty of it all: the lush greenery, the snowy blue peak looming above... Behind him the curling inlets of Turnagain Arm had been transformed into pools of liquid copper by the ever-present sun. It was a dizzying sight.

No wonder people who visited Alaska came back exhilarated, blathering about the grandeur and majesty. This truly was a Great Land, as the tourist material boasted.

Watching the treetop s glide past under him, he judged the distance to the ground: a good fifty to sixty feet in spots. A fall here would be fatal.

 

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