Reading the North

Frozen Treasure: A Robert Sable Mystery by Sean Thomas
Gone Again Ptarmigan by Jonathan London; illustrated by Jon Van Zyle

Frozen Treasure: A Robert Sable Mystery

Sean Thomas (Whiskey Creek Press, $15.95)

The blurb: Alaska author Sean Thomas' new novel finds Alaska State Trooper Robert Sable investigating the death of two university professors. Rumors and clues suggest the professors were investigating Spanish explorers who visited Alaska seeking a vast treasure hidden in the wilderness. As Sable unlocks the clues, they take him and his team from Anchorage's universities to Native villages located in the icy depths of the wilderness. When Sable unmasks the perpetrators, the game becomes more deadly with assassins around every corner.

Excerpt: Sergeant Robert Sable stood outside the yellow tape of the crime scene -- one of the smaller offices at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The hallway was barely lighted. He blinked as he looked into the bright office and wiped the sleep from his eyes. Taking a deep breath, he tried to bring himself to a state of alertness. Not even the extreme cold of the morning had worked. He slipped off his parka and tossed it over a chair near the door.

"Your hair gets whiter every time I see it," Sergeant Hugh Conner said. The trooper stood a half foot taller than Sable. "I've never seen a guy with white hair as young as you, especially a Tlingit."

"He's half Tlingit, Raven Clan. The other half is Scandahoovian," Sergeant Aaron McCabe said. McCabe, Sable's partner, was part Cherokee and towered over Conner.

Sable ran his hand though his hair, then took a clipboard from Conner. "This job'll do it to you."

Gone Again Ptarmigan

Jonathan London; illustrated by Jon Van Zyle (Snowy Owl Books, $12.95)

The blurb: In this cold northern world, danger stalks the woods and flies the skies. Wolves, bears, foxes and owls are on the lookout. But the ptarmigan is safe. It can hide in plain view with its seasonal camouflage, its feathers that change with the landscape. In this book for children, the art of Van Zyle and the text from London showcase the willow ptarmigan, Alaska's state bird.

Excerpt: Papa shouts:

Go back! Go back! Go back!

and flails at the startled grizzly as the ptarmigan family flees.

Having molted -- from winter white to summer brown -- they settle down, disguised as a jumble of barren rocks.

Gone again ptarmigan.

Captain Ron: Flying Life's Longitudes and Latitudes

Captain Ronald L. Rismon (Captain Ron's Adventure Publishing, $59.95)

The Blurb: Ron Rismon's book is filled with tales and airplanes, large and small, and stories galore that will make readers laugh and run to an atlas. It's a great read for anyone who loves adventure, aviation and geography.

Excerpt: In the spring of 1973, Larry Stockhill and I were hunting Alaska brown bear on Admiralty Island near Basket Bay when we spotted a 7-footer down a creek from us "fishing." The animal, while big, didn't meet my trophy standard. I respect a bear's ferocity but I'm not intimidated and decided this was a great opportunity to photograph a beast up close. Larry took my 378 W.M. and covered me as I maneuvered with my 35-mm camera to take pictures. The bear saw me and swiftly advanced. I was used to living on the edge and savoring thrills but I thought I might have pushed my luck too far this time. I quickly threw my prized Stetson hat in his face to distract him. In a flash, he pounced on the hat, took a huge bite from the rim and tore out the liner. I was close enough to hear him snapping his teeth, growling, snorting and farting. After smelling my hat, the bear decided I wouldn't be good eating and ambled away.