Praise for Village of the Ghost Bears
“Jones delivers a finely laddered plot . . . but the real fun, as always, lies in the dozens of mini-lessons he gives on hardscrabble Alaskan life.”
“You can’t fake the stuff Stan Jones pulls off in Village of the Ghost Bears . . . A writer of muscular words and stark images, Jones sets up his scenes like film shots.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“In the fourth book of this enchanting series set in Alaska . . . [Jones has] created a richly populated universe you’ll be sorry to leave.”
“Chilling . . . Fascinating.”
“Fans of Tony Hillerman’s Jim Chee novels will appreciate the direct, wistful storytelling style of Stan Jones. And if life in northwest Alaska seems bleak with its poverty and hard cold, the strong bonds connecting Nathan Active to the people he serves and lives with have their own appeal. Most of all, Village of the Ghost Bears is a solid crime story—one good for any armchair detective.”
—Sacramento News and Review
You can't fake the stuff that Stan Jones pulls off in Village of the Ghost Bears…A writer of muscular words and stark images, Jones sets up his scenes like film shots: the daredevil maneuvers of a bush pilot landing on a lake; herds of caribou crossing the mountains to winter grounds; a body floating gently on the current of a stream, its flesh eaten by pike. This kind of writing makes for strong reading, especially with a sturdy murder plot to give it structure.
The New York Times
Northwest Alaska is the shining star of Jones's fourth Nathan Active mystery (after 2008's Frozen Sun), often viewed from a Super Cub plane flying perilously over wilderness foothills, craggy ridges and autumn tundra. While on a camping trip to a remote lake, Nathan, an Inupiaq (native) Alaska state trooper, and Grace, the woman he loves, come upon a body in a creek, its face eaten by pike. Arson soon follows murder. Back home in the village of Chukchi, the recreation center goes up in a blaze, claiming eight victims, including the town's police chief. Rumors of polar bear poaching complicate both cases. Jones, who's been a bush pilot and an investigative reporter, brings stomach-wrenching verisimilitude to crimes despoiling the land and the people, while he sensitively renders the tender, painful romance between Nathan and Grace. His sympathetic portrayal of Alaska's mixed-ethnic traditions is a tribute to both the state and the states of mind it inspires. (Dec.)
On a camping trip, Alaska trooper Nathan Active (Frozen Sun) finds a dead hunter but must fly home to the Arctic village of Chukchi to investigate the fire that destroyed the community's recreation center and killed eight people, including the police chief. Does this incident have a connection to a year-old plane crash and the dead man? VERDICT Every detail is in place to lead Active to another piece of the puzzle he must solve. Readers get a crash course in living in remote Alaska and a mighty fine mystery as well. Comparable to Alaska mysteries by Dana Stabenow and Mike Doogan, this series should get more exposure than it does. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 8/09.]\
Adult/High School—This novel follows Alaska State Trooper Nathan Active as he tries to solve two possibly connected occurrences: the discovery of the body of a hunter at a remote lake and a fire at the Chukchi Recreation Center that claims eight lives. Without having read the previous books in the series, it is initially difficult to engage with the characters, but that quickly becomes inconsequential as the main focus of the novel turns to solving the mysteries. Jones provides a unique look at the Alaskan landscape and reveals many of the racial tensions that still exist in this part of the world. Ghost Bears leaves readers looking forward to the next "Nathan Active" installment.—Kelliann Bogan, Colby-Sawyer College, New London, NH
For Alaska state trooper Nathan Active, love in a cold climate gets mixed with murder. Amazing Grace, they used to call her when she walked the wild side of Anchorage-a bad girl stunning to look at, but with an aura of doomsday as much a part of her as her beautiful face. Back in her hometown of Chukchi now, Grace Palmer is a different woman. While she hasn't actually vanquished her despair, it has been leavened by hope, and Nathan Active, who's crazy about her in all her moods, takes heart from the change, as well as modest credit for having done what love can do. He'd like to earn credit too for solving a crime that's brought volatile Chukchi close to frenzy. It's become evident that the tragic fire in the town's recreation center was deliberately set, costing the lives of seven people. As it turns out, however, six of the deaths were gratuitous, since the ugly crime was an act of vengeance aimed at only one. But which one? At first, Nathan gets it wrong, and when he finally gets it right he can't quite make himself believe it-until he remembers that he's in Alaska, where the bizarre and the commonplace are so often inextricable. Multilayered characters and an offbeat setting authentically rendered-Jones (Frozen Sun, 2008, etc.) bids fair to become the Tony Hillerman of Alaska.