Alaskan Crimes

A Story of Betrayal by Michael Ace Smith is a 92-page story of, just like the title indicates, a betrayal. Ben Churchinoff is a Captain, and thus commander, of the Juneau police force. He is described on the Amazon page as a small-town Captain. I am not familiar with Alaska but I did not think of Juneau as a small town. The way this story is told, it seems the police force is large. In one case, Ben calls his office and seems not to know the person, Morgan Turner, answering the phone.

This story is worth reading for its description of Juneau; the surrounding mountains, trails, and lifestyle of living in a small Alaskan settlement. People seem to live closer to the earth. Certain things are overlooked, such as prostitution. Alcoholism is almost accepted as if there is nothing to do except drink. During one of Ben’s interviews, Andrea tells Ben that Adrienne, her missing sister, was excited about meeting a new man that she (Adrienne) and everyone else in the town had not slept with.

Adrienne is missing and Ben, although Chief of Police commanding several competent deputies, decides to take over the investigation himself. Ben investigates in a very methodical and competent manner. In this six-chapter novella, Ben has a few suspicions about who caused Adrienne’s disappearance as well as the disappearance of as many as six other women over the past couple of years. If the reader hasn’t figured it out by the end of Chapter Two, that same reader should not attempt games such as Clue.

This is straightforward, linear storytelling. The plot is as step-by-step as a cookbook. There are no surprises except for ones that are possibly unintentional. There is a new definition of the Bermuda Triangle. I have no idea why the dog kept by Andrea for over three years suddenly changes its disposition to something vicious. Chief Ben wonders about that also, even writes the dog’s strange behavior in his investigative notebook. And there the mystery remains. It is never addressed again.

I gave this a solid three stars. It is an OK read because of the interesting descriptive scene setting which by itself eclipses the rest of the novella as far as capturing my interest.

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