The Woman Who Married a Bear (Cecil Younger Series #1)

The Woman Who Married a Bear (Cecil Younger Series #1)

4.5 2
by John Straley

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In Sitka, Alaska, a subarctic port surrounded by snow-dusted mountains, an aged Tlingit Indian woman engages local investigator Cecil Younger to look into her son’s murder. The crime has long since been marked solved by the authorities. But what Younger unearths is a primal conspiracy to hide both the motive for the victim’s murder and the true identity of


In Sitka, Alaska, a subarctic port surrounded by snow-dusted mountains, an aged Tlingit Indian woman engages local investigator Cecil Younger to look into her son’s murder. The crime has long since been marked solved by the authorities. But what Younger unearths is a primal conspiracy to hide both the motive for the victim’s murder and the true identity of the killer.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A compelling narrator/protagonist and colorful local details propel this commanding mystery, the first of a projected series set in Alaska. Cecil Younger is a bundle of paradoxes: a hard-drinking private eye in Sitka, he writes haiku and lives with the guilt of career failure and the pain born when he wife walked out on him. Younger needs a good case to get his mind off his troubles, and it comes when an old Tlingit woman hires him to find out why her son, big-game guide Louis Victor, was shot to death. She does not believe the mentally unbalanced man convicted of the crime was responsible. Younger takes on the closed case mainly to placate the grieving mother, but after he is the target of potshots, he comes to believe there is a deeper story than the facts suggest. Throwing himself into the case, he travels from Sitka to Juneau to Anchorage to track down and question the victim's wife, grown children, friends and fellow guides. Sustaining the suspense from start to satisfying, unexpected finish, first novelist Straley, a criminal investigator for Alaska's Public Defender Agency, since suspense is sustained thru plot, seems awk to mention them separately has written a book whose unique, fully fleshed-out characters readers will be eager to see again. (May)
Library Journal
Cecil Younger, a private investigator of sorts in Sitka, Alaska, has many enemies besides the alcohol he so assiduously consumes. One of them tries to kill him when he asks questions about the murder of an Indian--even though the convicted killer sits in prison. Cecil's quest connects him with a cross-section of frontier inhabitants: Indians, Eskimos, hunters, drunkards, even an estranged lover. Straley's evocative prose conjures up both natural wonder and human tawdriness without slackening the insistent suspense. A promising debut.
From the Publisher
Praise for The Woman Who Married a Bear

“Atmospheric . . . vigorous prose.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Echoes of James Crumley . . . Flashes of the dark poetry of Ross Macdonald.”
Chicago Tribune

“Blazes a new trail through the dense, familiar forest of the mystery genre . . . A highly refreshing setting, a great cast of characters, and an intriguing plot . . . A winning combination.”
The Bloomsbury Review

“Outstanding . . . Satisfies on all levels.”
The Kansas City Star

“A rich stew of deception and menace . . . a superior mystery novel.”
Anchorage Daily News

“As great writers have always done, Straley breathes new life into a stock character by remaking an ancient myth.”
The Vancouver Sun

“Clear and crisp, like a Juneau morning.”
Albuquerque Journal

Praise for John Straley

“Lesser writers look to their characters’ poor choices and attempts to rectify them, John Straley loves his characters for just those choices.  Hölderlin wrote: 'Poetically man dwells on the earth.' Some of us wind up in limericks, some in heroic couplets. But damned near every one of us, sooner or later, ends up in one of Straley’s wise, wayward, wonderfully unhinged novels.”
James Sallis, author of Drive and the Lew Griffin mysteries

“Like the Coen brothers on literary speed, John Straley is among the very best stylists of his generation.”
Ken Bruen, Shamus Award winning author of The Guard

"Chandler, Ross Macdonald, James Crumley... Straley proves once again that he is up there with the great ones… His prose is as smooth as a well-tuned cello. He has tremendous feeling for the setting: not only the open waters and frosted countryside outside of Sitka and Juneau, but also the somewhat seedy streets of these cities."
Chicago Tribune

"Superior thriller writing, once again by Straley—an excellent plot against Alaska's gigantic and bizarre backdrop."
—Janwillem van de Wetering

"Now and then a writer dares to flout the rules and in so doing, carves out a niche that belongs to him alone. John Straley's novels are like no others."
San Diego Tribune

"Like James Lee Burke, Straley transcends the genre.... Marvelous."
The Tampa Tribune and Times

"Straley's beautifully understated narrative, vivid sense of place and unapologetic, unadorned characters make this a riveting, unpredictable ride."
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"Outstanding.... satisfies on all levels."
The Kansas City Star

"Strong and sobering... with his storyteller's sense of dramatic action [Straley's] in his glory."
The New York Times Book Review

"Straley hits all the right notes"
Booklist, Starred Review

Product Details

Soho Press, Incorporated
Publication date:
Cecil Younger Series , #1
Sold by:
Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Sales rank:
File size:
618 KB

Meet the Author

John Straley, a criminal investigator for the state of Alaska, lives in Sitka with his son and wife, a marine biologist who studies whales. He is the Shamus Award–winning author of The Curious Eat Themselves; Cold Storage, Alaska; and The Big Both Ways. He was appointed the Writer Laureate of Alaska in 2006.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Woman Who Married a Bear (Cecil Younger Series #1) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Sitka hard boiled drinker Cecil Younger sits outside the Alaskan state run Pioneer Home for the elderly without any money and no idea what happened to his credit card. He cannot afford the ferry to leave town and wonders what cure to try next to battle alcoholism as only Haiku writing so far has helped a little. Cecil blames or thanks his drinking problem depending on how many he already has on his wife deserting him. --- When his potential client Mrs. Victor finishes her breakfast Cecil enters the facility to talk with her. The elderly Tlingit woman hires Cecil to learn the whole truth why someone killed her son Louis, a big-game guide she rejects the official position that a crazy man convicted of the murder committed the crime. Needing to escape his troubles and knowing the irony of taking on The Brown Bear Man Case, Cecil agrees to investigate to help the grieving mom get some closure though he expects to find nothing different until someone tries to shoot him. Cecil travels to Juneau and Anchorage to talk with family members and hunting guides not realizing that opening up this solved case could lead to a second murder, his. --- THE WOMAN WHO MARRIED A BEAR is a terrific Alaskan private investigative tale that grips the audience on several fronts. Readers will appreciate the fallen hero struggling to regain some of his self esteem, but not always succeeding. Cecil¿s inquiries are electrifying as the suspense mounts with every new person he questions and his tour of Alaska enhances the excitement. Readers will welcome John Straley as a super addition to the forty-ninth state mystery pantheon. --- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago