Paige Shelton’s Fateful Words follows Delaney Nichols as she is confronted with a plethora of mysteries, one of which is the death of local Inn manager. Delaney works at The Cracked Spine, an Edinburgh book shop owned by the locally beloved Edwin MacAlister. Unfortunately, an emergency takes Edwin away just as his special once a year tour is set to begin. He has Delaney cover for him and show his guests all the sights that he would have shown them himself. She is not pleased with this new task, afraid that she won’t be able to do it, or Edwin, justice. But she is both resigned and determined to make the trip a good one for Edwin’s guests. It also helps that all four visitors, while a little disconcerted and upset at first, are willing to stay and experience the Delaney tour.
This is the third in Paige Shelton’s insanely enjoyable Alaska wild series, set in tiny Benedict and featuring Beth Rivers, who is hiding out. She’d been kidnapped and got away, though sustaining a concussion and other injuries as well as suffering from PTSD. She is wary when she arrives in Alaska but by book three has begun to relax into life in Benedict – more or less.
She had left the lower 48 after her kidnapping, leaving the hospital against her doctor’s orders and in fear of the man who took her, who so far in the series has not been captured (though I’m assuming that will eventually happen). She’s also a well known writer under a pen name, so she’s able to maintain cover by writing the tiny town paper while using the paper’s “office” – a tiny shack behind the library (good wifi and cell phone coverage, which happens few other places in town). She’s made a connection with the librarian, a stoner Willie Nelson type who nevertheless has some special ops skills as far as obtaining information goes.
There are two authors whose work is so consistently excellent I don’t add them to my best of lists anymore, but I can tell you that William Kent Krueger’s prequel to his Cork O’Connor series, Lightning Strike, is beautifully written, felt and told; and Louise Penny’s The Madness of Crowds, a sly look at devotees of a flawed charismatic leader, is a beautiful read. Both writers have a quality of heart and spirit that give their books an extra something, and their main characters, Cork O’Connor and Armand Gamache, are beloved by readers. Soon to join these two are Elly Griffiths and Ann Cleeves, both of whom turned in stellar reads this year (see below). I invite readers to cast their reading nets a bit wider and consider some of these other fine titles. These are all books that stayed with me and left me thinking after I finished them.
Paige Shelton will join our book club via zoom on Sunday, May 16, at 2 p.m. Message us on facebook or contact us at store (at) auntagathas.com for a zoom invitation. We’ll be reading the first book in her Alaska Wild series, Thin Ice. The second novel, Cold Wind, is nominated for a Mary Higgins Clark Award this year!
Here’s a precis of Thin Ice, and you can read my review of Cold Wind here.
Beth Rivers is on the run – she’s doing the only thing she could think of to keep herself safe. Known to the world as thriller author Elizabeth Fairchild, she had become the subject of a fanatic’s obsession. After being held in a van for three days by her kidnapper, Levi Brooks, Beth managed to escape, and until he is captured, she’s got to get away. Cold and remote, Alaska seems tailor-made for her to hideout.
This is the second book in Paige Shelton’s series about thriller writer Elizabeth Fairchild, now in hiding in tiny Benedict, Alaska as Beth Rivers, after being kidnapped by a crazed fan. Elizabeth/Beth lives in a halfway house and appreciates the privacy she finds in the Alaskan wild, a place that truly seems to be its own country, existing without a real nod to the rules and regulations more common in the lower 48. Shelton, the author of four other cozier series than this one, is a real pro at narrative, pacing, and character. These skills easily transfer to this series which is a bit darker in tone, and fits in more with work by writers like Ellen Hart, Dana Stabenow and Julia Spencer-Fleming.