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Book Author: Paige Shelton

DARK NIGHT by Paige Shelton: Book Review

Beth Rivers is still living in Benedict, Alaska, the most remote place she can find.  After surviving a traumatic abduction seven months earlier and with her kidnapper remaining on the loose, Beth fled from her home in Missouri to this tiny town that is almost off the grid, hoping that Travis Walker will never find her.  So far he hasn’t, but her fear of him is never far from the surface of her mind.

She has a made a life for herself, or at least a sort of life, because Benedict is a place where she feels safe.  Only the police chief, Gril Samuels, knows Beth’s backstory, and it was his suggestion that she stay at Benedict House, a halfway house for women felons.  Although Beth hasn’t told Viola, the woman who runs the House, what brought her to the town, Viola takes no nonsense from anyone, and Beth knows she can count on Viola to have her back.

But even in a town as small as this one, there are secrets that its citizens don’t want uncovered.  That may explain the attitude of some residents toward the census taker.  Doug Vintner is asking questions that people feel are none of his business–like how old they are, what their occupation is, how many people live in their house.  Seemingly innocuous questions to most people, but not to everyone, Beth in particular.  “Dodge him…don’t give him answers if you can avoid it,” is the advice she’s given, and she plans to take it.

As Beth and some friends are sitting in the town’s only bar, the door bursts open and a distraught woman rushes in.  Claudia has been beaten, with one of her eyes swollen and her forehead bloody.  Not for the first time, she’s run away from her husband, and not for the first time she tells Beth and the others, “It’s not his fault.”  As Claudia attempts to excuse Ned, she says her husband was fine until the census taker came to their house and started asking too many questions.  The one that set Ned off was Vintner asking how many people were in the house.

It turns out that Ned’s sister Lucy, a fugitive, was hiding in the adjacent shed, a fact known only to Claudia and Ned.  She’s wanted by the Juneau police, but due to the inclement weather the police are unable to get her on the ferry to return to the city.  Because of the abusive relationship between Claudia and Ned, Lucy has been remanded to Viola’s custody until the ferry is running again.  So she’s staying at Benedict House when news comes that her brother Ned has been killed.

In the midst of all this, Beth’s mother arrives without warning.  The two have a difficult relationship, mostly because of her mother’s rather checkered past, but she and Beth are now doing their best to work together to make certain that Travis Walker doesn’t come to Benedict.  Mill is fearless and determined to protect her daughter, but her decisions are not always well-thought-out or well-received, both by Beth and the town’s police chief.

This is the third book in the Alaska Wild series, and Paige Shelton continues to give her readers an excellent plot and realistic characters.  She is the author of four other mystery series and several stand-alones.  You can read more about her at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.

THIN ICE by Paige Shelton: Book Review

The beauty of Alaska takes pride of place in this first in a series, but the fascinating protagonist is a close second.  Beth Rivers, known to the readers of her books as Elizabeth Fairchild, has fled to Benedict, Alaska from her home in Missouri.  It’s small and remote, just what she’s looking for, and thus a place where the man who kidnapped and held her prisoner for three days before she managed to escape could never find her.  Or so she fervently hopes.

Beth has booked a room via the Internet at Benedict House, which she assumed from her online search was a hotel housed in a former Russian Orthodox Church.  Actually, as she finds out when she arrives, it’s a halfway house for women on parole.  Since there are no realistic options for other housing, Beth decides to stay there in spite of its unusual inhabitants:  Viola, the no-nonsense owner and the parolees–Willa, Loretta, and Trinity, all shoplifters.  The three parolees take turns cooking, and although none has been convicted of a violent crime, Viola’s rule is that the woman whose turn it is to cook the meals on a particular day has to taste the food in front of the others before she serves it.  Take no chances would appear to be Viola’s motto.

Only three people know who Beth is or the reason she is in Benedict.  One is her mother; one is Detective Majors, who is still searching for Beth’s attacker; and the third is the town’s police chief, nicknamed Gril, who was told about the reason behind Beth’s arrival in Benedict by Detective Majors.  Beth uses burner phones to call the first two and calls them only when necessary.  She cannot imagine any way that her abductor could possibly find her in a town that’s only reachable via plane or ferry and where all passengers are logged in on arrival, but she still locks the door to her room at the Benedict House, both when she’s inside it and when she leaves.  Better safe than sorry, she thinks.

But even in a town of five hundred inhabitants, sudden death can strike.  Just before Beth’s arrival another transplant from the lower forty-eight, Linda Rafferty, was found dead in the cabin she shared with her husband George.  Gril tells Beth that although Linda’s death has been ruled a suicide, he thinks it looks like murder.  George Rafferty is nowhere to be found, and Gril wants to keep the investigation open.

Gril knows that Beth has a civilian’s background in police work, and he asks her if she’d be willing to do two things.  First, would she be willing to act as a consultant, if needed, to help his undermanned police force.  Second, would she consider taking over the Benedict Petition, the town’s weekly newspaper that stopped publication after the death of its editor a year earlier.  Much to her own surprise, Beth agrees to both, and almost immediately she’s consumed by the investigation into Linda’s death.

Paige Shelton has written an engaging mystery with a heroine to admire.  I’m hoping to see Beth Rivers again soon.

You can read more about Paige Shelton at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden Oldies, Past Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.