Cold Company by Sue Henry
After an arsonist destroyed her home a few months earlier, Jessie Arnold is building a new log cabin on her property. For now she lives in a Winnebago parked to the side of the lot. She is still with her mushing dogs and their kennels and can watch as the construction crew works on her new home from the basement up.
Unfortunately, the new cabin comes with a surprise. As they’re digging out the basement, a skeleton is uncovered. Everything stops as the police and coroner are called in. The skeleton has been there a while – probably from before the time she bought the property. She’s still waiting for the paperwork to be replaced after the fire, so has to investigate the previous owner.
Construction is delayed and the team doesn’t have much to do. Jessie only knows a couple of them – the others are summer hires. A musher from Minnesota Jessie had met on a race the past winter appears at her trailer. Lynn Ehler has decided to move to a new home in Alaska to live and train his dogs. Since she broke up with Alex Jensen after he moved to Idaho, she agrees to go out Lynn for dinner soon.
Jessie is a bit concerned when someone has a single red rose delivered to her door. Two more are delivered over the next couple days, including one that arrives while she’s out for dinner with Lynn at the local bar. The third one was left inside the Winnebago, so she calls the cops in.
There have been some murdered women discovered along the Knik River near her home. They are reflections of the victims of the most notorious serial killer in Alaska. The man in safely in jail, but someone may be copying him. Jessie learns that three single roses had been delivered to the victims before they disappeared. Is she the next target?
Cold Company makes an Alaska summer vivid in the long daylight, the lushness of the rugged countryside, the melting glaciers, and the steadiness and strength of its inhabitants. Sue Henry brings her home territory to life as the background for a well crafted mystery.
In the 1970’s through the early 1980’s Alaska, Robert Hansen was killing women and was the most horrific serial killer in the state’s history. Henry used that case as a reflection for the serial murders in Cold Company. Jessie’s story is occasionally interspersed with scenes connected with the new killings. Henry uses these scenes judiciously, enough to keep the reader’s interest piqued, but not overdone to pull away from Jessie’s own mystery.
Cold Company isn’t gruesome but it has its chilly moments. The reader has to know what happens but isn’t put off my scenes of blood and gore. Interesting mystery against a lush background rather than the harsh environment of an Alaskan winter.