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Cold Storage, Alaska    by John Straley order for
Cold Storage, Alaska
by John Straley
Order:  USA  Can
Soho, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

After seven years in the slammer for dealing drugs, Clive 'The Milkman' McCahon is headed back to his home in Alaska. A remote fishing village, Cold Storage is aptly named and Clive plans to warm it up a tad by opening a combination bar/church. (Don't ask why this unlikely combination - the author explains it in the novel!)

Clive's younger brother Miles has been caring for their ailing mother while Clive's been away and, as a physician's assistant, Miles is also the closest thing Cold Storage has to a doctor. The eccentric residents of this outpost will remind some readers of the TV sitcom Northern Exposure, so expect a little off-beat humor mixed in with the storyline.

Clive's homecoming is marred by a former business associate who wants to discuss some missing funds that apparently the ex-con plans to use to launch his business venture. If that's not enough of a problem to complicate Clive's life, there's also a local cop who is intent on finding an excuse to send the budding entrepreneur back to prison.

Finally, this denizen of the wilderness has been hearing animals talk to him, or at least he thinks they are, and what they have to say is a bit troubling. All in all, this bizarre story has plenty of unexpected twists and turns plus a cast of totally whacked-out characters.

Granted this is not your typical run-of-the-mill whodunit, but it does offer a change of pace and some oddball humor. John Straley, a Sitka resident, has received the Shamus Award for his Cecil Younger series and he was appointed the Writer Laureate of Alaska in 2006.

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