Twenty years earlier, a serial killer brutally murdered a number of women in the area. One of the fiend's victims disappeared wearing a butterfly pendant a necklace similar, if not identical, to one discoveredwith the grisly human remains. A grim nightmare believed to be long over must now be revisited or, worse still, has been reborn. Because, once again, a local woman has disappeared without a trace.
And, once again, Jessie is being pulled into a murder investigation against her will. Red roses are being sent to her anonymously the gifts of a secret admirer who may also be a stone-cold killer. In this stark and lonely place, in the first days of the all-too-brief Alaskan summer, the signs suggest the unthinkable: An insatiable human monster has returned...and Jessie Arnold may well be his next victim.
In what is perhaps her most unforgettable novel to date, the incomparable Sue Henry weaves a spellbinding tale of past sins and present-day evils, of humanity at its best and worst, and nature at its most powerful.
About 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.
Read an Excerpt
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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
This is my favorite book by Ms. Henry! I have,in fact, read it more than once, and I always enjoy it!
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.
This is set in Alaska, in a little place not too far from Wasilla (currently famous for being the home of the Republican VP candidate, and Alaska governor, Sarah Palin). The descriptions in the book bring Alaska alive. There is the physical space with rivers, old growth forest, and glaciers as part of the scenery and the setting. There is also a good feel for the people who live there, with attitudes towards the seasons, and the heroine's profession of musher. Jessie Arnold raises and races dogs in dog sled competitions. She has no other obvious profession noted, so it must be enough to keep her in groceries and dog food. Jessie is an interesting, sympathetic character, but not really involved in solving the mystery. Things happen around her that pull her in, sometimes as witness, sometimes as one nearly killed. But she rarely acts to pull the mystery part of the story forward. The book is interesting as a "slice of life" happening while a murder mystery unfolds in her vicinity, but for a mystery story, I had hoped she would be more active in its solution. On the other hand, her peripheral involvement is really more realistic than many mystery stories where the main character is not in law enforcement. But it isn't as good a story.