Set in wintry Jackson Hole, Wyo., this crisp, straightforward mystery plunges gallery owner Alix Thorssen into the local Nordic Nights festival, which features ice carving, a parade, ski races--and a startling murder. Famous Norwegian painter Glasius Dokken, who had come to town for his show at Alix's gallery, is found stabbed with an ice pick in the hotel room of an itinerant and provocative fortune-teller. Arrested for the killing is Alix's glumly stoic stepfather (his fingerprints were all over the crime scene), who reveres his Scandinavian heritage and has painstakingly crafted a replica of a Viking ship to be displayed in the parade. Alix, persistent and unflappable, begins to investigate, but accidents plague her and her family: the Viking ship nearly crushes her; her mother barely escapes a hit-and-run; and Bjarne, a seductive ski-racer who has beguiled Alix, is also implicated in the murder. McClendon works a good deal of Nordic folklore into her story. The fortune-teller is a specialist in runes, and her silver-and-wood tools quickly become a central point in the case: Are the runes museum quality? Have they been stolen? The third entry in the McClendon's series (after The Bluejay Shaman) conjures up the icy beauty of Jackson Hole, and though the dialogue can be stilted, her agreeably feisty heroine and a hair-raising finale will keep readers entertained throughout the night, Nordic or otherwise. (Dec.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Alix Thorssen, gallery owner and sometime sleuth (The Painted Truth) in Jackson, WY, fends for her stepfather when he is jailed for the murder of a famous visiting Norwegian painter. A local festival involving a parade, ice sculptures, ski races, and rune-stone readers serves as background for the action. The victim's painted murals depicting Norse mythology fit right in. As she looks for the real culprit, Alix deals with an out-of-town boyfriend, an in-town wanna-be lover, a worried and cranky mother, the gallery, and increasing danger to herself. A solid, enticing addition to the series. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
"Nordic Nights" is a Jackson Hole, Wyoming festival meant for fun, frolic, and tourist dollars. Then the famous Norwegian painter, Glasius Dokken is found murdered with an ice pick in his back. Gunshots are fired through Alix Thorssen's art gallery window, her mother is run down by a car, her stepfather's float is torched, Alix nearly drowns, and her father is a suspect in the murder but won't defend himself. Nordic Nights is a fastpaced mystery thriller showcasing a memorable cast of characters that include a hotblooded professional skier, a fortunetelling white witch, a crusty ice sculptor, a headdresswearing Native American attorney, and Harrison Ford. Here is terrific reading from first page to last!
The third Alix Thorssen mystery novel is set in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, during the town's annual winter festival. Forget about cowboys and gunfights. This Jackson Hole is a tourist town with artsy shops, skiers in Lycra tights, press conferences at the chamber of commerce office and ice sculptures in the town square.
Alix, owner of an art gallery, has just installed in her showroom a celebrated Norwegian artist and his huge murals depicting Norse myths. She half-heartedly tries to meet her obligations as a festival volunteer. With her boyfriend tucked away in an Arizona desert learning to fly helicopters, she is free to suffer the sexual advances of a Lycra-clad professional skier.
Then the great mural artist is murdered, and it is Alix's own stepfather, Hank Helgeson, caught standing over the body. Hank won't say a word in his own defense. With a subplot about strained family relationships percolating in the background, Alix is pulled deeper and deeper into a case involving a malevolent fortune teller named Madame Isa, magical rune stones and passions over who first arrived at the New World, Columbus or the Vikings.
Things go from bad to worse. Someone torches the float Hank built for the festival parade. Someone runs down Alix's mom, putting her in the hospital. Shots are fired through the gallery window. Alix's friend, Luca, tells her she has seen the pattern before, in her native Argentina. "This is how it begins there," Luca says. "Little things. ... The intimidation of a family. Someone is arrested. Something they love is burned or destroyed. They are hurt but not so badly
they die. They have pain."
Alix has a high tolerance for pain. She doesn't so much drive the plot as survive it: a trailer hitch falls on her, her hands are burned putting out the burning parade float, she nearly drowns beneath a frozen river. Plus, she must bear the sting of seeing her skier, who has nearly succeeded in seducing her, kissing the mysterious Madame Isa.
This is festival time, however, and such events are matched with more pedestrian moments such as running into Harrison Ford at a bar, eating Luca's black beans spiced with chilies and cinnamon and speculating about the intentions of the gruff ice sculptor whose work, towering in the town square, looks suspiciously phallic. Such moments, in fact, soften the effect of a rather implausible plot and anchor the story in a reality recognizable to readers who have spent a little time in a small town during an annual festival.
The ending, in which not quite all is revealed and not all loose ends are neatly tied up, has the same satisfying reality about it - rather like the slight drabness of the streets in the Monday morning sun when the festival is over.