Spoils of the Dead by Dana Stabenow
After nine years, a new Alaskan mystery featuring Trooper Liam Campbell is a welcome return. I don’t remember the earlier books featuring Liam and his wife, pilot Wyanet Chouinard, but this book is a good entry into the series as Liam and Wy move to a new post in Bleweston. Wy’s flight to Bleweston beautifully describes the area’s scenery and wildlife. Liam meets the brewer who sold him a bayfront house and several other locals, and is invited to visit archaeologist Erik’s dig site on the coast. After a few days at his new post with extremely efficient assistant Sally Petroff, Liam gets a call that two boys found a skeleton in a cave. Exploring the cave the next morning, Liam also finds Erik’s body. Liam, assisted by Wy, investigates, with the most local insight coming from an elderly woman who keeps sneaking out of her assisted living facility.
The setting is gorgeous and most of the locals are friendly. The mysteries of the two deaths aren’t solved by any great detecting on Liam’s part, but rather by a confession. Liam does uncover one of the town’s many secrets; why his assistant Sally has been lying to him. Robyn Carr fans who also read mysteries will likely enjoy getting to know Liam and Wy, along with fans of Stabenow’s Kate Shugak mysteries (start in the middle with the darkly funny Breakup). Readers of Sue Henry’s Alaskan mysteries or Anne Hillerman’s Navajo mysteries may also enjoy. Mystery fans who prefer an intricate but solvable mystery plot may be disappointed, but I enjoyed the characters and setting very much.