A fast-paced, darkly funny crime novel set in Interior Alaska that follows down-on-his-luck cabbie, Mike Fisher, as he searches for his daughter. Her step-father has been shot in her bathroom, and Fisher thinks she killed him and fled. In a panic he tries to hide the body, but that's not easy when it's fifty-below outside. Things get dangerously complicated when it turns out step-dad was part of a local militia, and now they're on Fisher's tail. Dead of Winter evokes the harshness of winter in the ---sub-arctic and the intrigue fostered in a bored, trapped and socially circumscribed small-town community.
A cracking read from July – Gerri Brightwell’s Dead of Winter.
Mike Fisher is a cab driver in minus 57 degrees Alaska. He’s having a bit of a bad time of late……his wife left him a few years ago, he’s disconnected from his daughter Bree and he’s permanently on his step-mum Ada’s sh**-list. He’s having himself a bit of a pity party… contemplating death on the icy roads.
He thinks what he’d leave behind. Not much: a dingy trailer beside his hardly-built house, a sulky troubled teenage daughter, an ex-wife who’s reinvented herself right out of remembering she ever loved him once upon a time. I’m not a has-been, he thinks, I’m a never-was, a two-hundred-and-forty-pound sad sack, a Class A freaking loser.
I like Mike.
Mike’s soon got reason for despair – he’s missed a phone call from his daughter, but has a panicked voice-mail. When he calls back she doesn’t pick-up and when he turns up at her home, he finds her step-dad Brian naked and very dead in her bathroom. If he hadn’t already been shot, Mike probably would have done the deed himself. What's Brian doing naked in his teenage daughter's bathroom?
Enlisting a friend, Grisby ……Grisby’s the kind of friend you can’t necessarily count on……though what kind of friend is that? ……..the pair dump the body and Mike sets out to track his daughter down.
A dead cop is later discovered at step-dad Brian's home and while Mike is hunting Breehan, the local gun-nut militia are hunting Mike, thinking he can lead them to Brian.
Love of family proves to be a compelling incentive. One which rouses Mike from his torpor and gives him back some purpose.
Great setting – harsh and brutal, Alaska, minus 57 degrees, ice, cold, snow – I had to put my coat on to read it!
Great cast of characters – Mike obviously and the other standout for me was the step-mother Ada. She literally jumps off the page, a minor character in many respects, I absolutely loathed her
You’d think after all these years Fisher’d be used to the sight of her, but he isn’t. She’s all wrong, as wrong as the motel she runs with his dad with its phony antique clock in the reception area, and its vases of silk flowers, the cheap prints of Denali on the wall, the warm stink of her cigarettes beneath the fake-vanilla scent of air-freshener and, worst of all, the cheery Hi there she croaks out to guests. Every time he sets foot in the place he wants to tell her, you’re not fooling anyone.
An enjoyable outing in the hands of English author, Gerri Brightwell.
Brightwell is the author of a couple of previous books - Cold Country (2002), The Dark Lantern (2008) - and is a Professor at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. There's an author bio here.
4 from 5
Thanks to Salt Publishing for the copy.