Saturday, February 01, 2014

Best February Treat Yet: COLD STORAGE, ALASKA from John Straley

What kind of guy is author John Straley? Well, he just asked on his Twitter feed, "Does this interview make me look fat?"

So settle into his newest crime fiction crossover with rural humor in COLD STORAGE, ALASKA -- named for the remote fishing outpost where Miles McCahon's been taking care of people at the tiny health center, watching over his dying mother, and waiting for the moment when his dedicated criminal of a brother is sure to come home. And here we are: Clive McMahon is on his way, having stopped first to gather up the cash he's sure is his ... of course, it happened to be in a storage box owned by a mob boss, but why would that mean trouble might follow Clive home??

Don't think Westlake for this caper crime novel, though; think Clyde Edgerton maybe, or a tender, kinder version of Janet Evanovich (do you look fat in that comparison, Mr. Straley? not a bit). Because what makes Straley (a criminal investigator in the "real" Alaska) and his books stand out is the way his characters treat each other: with a reliable sense of love and awe, even if they do get distracted by thinking they are hearing talking animals or making a pilgrimage to the Dalai Lama.

Yes, pilgrimage to the Dalai Lama -- it's Billy who's up to that one. Here's a sample from when Billy gets rescued from the cold ocean by Bonnie, who will soon have her own important role in Cold Storage:
They both woke up in the infirmary on the boat. They were covered in warm blankets which felt as if they had just come from the dryer. Hot pads sat on their chests and bellies, the extension cords running out from under the blankets.

The ship's doctor leaned over Billy and asked him if he knew where he was.

"I'm in the Universe," Billy said with a smile on his face.

"Exactly," the doctor said and patted the shivering man's shoulder.
The plot that entangles Miles (who's well worth caring about) and Clive (and that's another) and their village includes a bar that's a part-time church, as well as the aforementioned mob boss. I hope you'll treat yourself to a copy of this wacky and enjoyable romp. I am hoping to forget most of the details over the next year, so that next February I can re-read the whole thing and laugh and smile anew.

PS -- Thanks Soho Crime. You sure do know how to pick 'em. Straley's earlier title was The Curious Eat Themselves -- and then there's The Woman Who Married a Bear, and The Big Both Ways. But this may be the best yet.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The best syrup and great taste in literature...the NE Kingdom is a magical place!
From a former VTer lucky enough to share a town with J. Straley