Reading the North

Kathleen Macknicki

Gone Away is the Sun

Lisa Eisenrich (Melange Books, $16.95, Kindle edition, $5.99)

The blurb: A first novel set in contemporary Alaska, "Gone Away is the Sun" tells the story of Peter Crist and Oliver Anderson, best friends since boyhood, and Claire Knight, the woman who comes between them. When Peter, a charismatic photographer in his 20s, returns from years abroad, the moment he lays eyes on Ollie's girlfriend, he feels he cannot live without her. In his pursuit of Claire, as loyalties and desires realign, all three are changed irrevocably. When tragedy occurs in the seductive, but unforgiving Alaska wilderness, they are forced to explore the meaning of love and regret, and examine who they've become. Have they made the right choices, or have their mistakes ruined them?

Excerpt: That Chloe is excited at the prospect of being 4 and a pony owner is not the only reason she lay so perfectly and unnaturally still in her bed listening for her mother's whispery steps in the hall. Chloe always feels great anticipation in waiting for her mother. She is always thrilled yet perfectly calmed in her mother's presence.

Chloe thinks hers the most amazing mother on the whole planet Earth. She is always completely satisfied to belong to her mother, and loves being with her. Chloe especially loves nighttime when she is wrapped in her mother's arms, her head cuddled against her mother's shoulder, reading books together until Chloe's falls asleep.

On this night, the night before her 4th birthday, after reading only two library books, her lovely mother sits upright, the coils of her hair swaying as she places a pile of unread books on the floor. This variation from their usual routine alarms Chloe slightly. She knows this signifies something unusual, but she is uncertain as to what.

Could it be the pony?

Claire brushes a stray curl from Chloe's cheek and picks up her daughter's hand.

"You're getting to be such a big girl, Clo, and your father and I are both very proud of you."

Chloe is tense and wide-eyed and nodding, Yes, Yes at these things, which makes her mother's mouth turn up in a sly, half smile.

"Now, I know you've got your heart set on a pony. But..."

Precisely on cue, Peter enters the room carrying the basket wrapped in pink ribbons. Inside, a white kitten tumbles about, knocked off balance even with Peter's gentle gait.

Chloe's eyes grow wide and her mouth falls open. For a single, suspenseful moment, it is uncertain if the kitten will be offering enough to compensate for the pony that would not be given

Three Miles From Tomorrow

Keith M. Perkins (Xlibris, $15.99, Kindle edition, $3.99)

The blurb: During World War II, America supplied the Soviet Union with aircraft and weapons via airlift from Alaska to Siberia. U.S. cargo planes ferried the supplies to Siberia and then headed empty back to Alaska -- except for one flight that was loaded with extremely valuable cargo and crashed somewhere between the two continents. Years later, that flight became the focal point of a murder in Anchorage, a dangerous standoff in the Bering Strait and a trial in Fairbanks. "Three Miles From Tomorrow" tells that story.

Excerpt: Alaska Airlines flight number 623 was cruising north at 24,000 feet en route from Seattle to Anchorage with stops at Ketchikan and Sitka. The captain of the flight was Timothy Patton, one of the veteran pilots of the airline.

As he approached Anchorage International he throttled back and slowed the plane, partially lowered the flaps and started his descent to the final approach. Suddenly he slammed the throttles forward, gained speed and retracted the landing gear. Patton grabbed the intercom. "Ladies and gentlemen, the tower just advised us that there are moose on the runway. We're going to do a wide, slow 360 to give them time to chase our four-legged friends away and then land normally. You can relax your stranglehold on the armrests now. Welcome to the Last Frontier."

The Ground Control supervisor radioed the plane: "Alaska 6233. Captain Patton, stay in the cockpit after the passengers and crew have deplaned. There is someone here who urgently needs to talk to you. Alone."

"Roger." Patton replied. He wondered who wanted to talk to him and why it was so urgent.

A tall red-bearded heavy-set man, dressed in a blue sport jacket and gray slacks carrying a trench coat over his arm entered the cockpit.

"Captain Patton?" I'm Don Ruger with the Anchorage Police Department. He shook his hand. ''I'm a detective, a lieutenant. I'm sorry to say that I have some bad news for you."

"Just call me Tim. What's the bad news?"

Ruger told the captain about the murder of his sister leaving out some of the gory details.

Patton slumped into his seat not believing what he just heard. "Murdered? Who would want to do that?"

"We don't know yet. I've been assigned to the case to find out," Ruger replied. "I'm going to need to talk to you at length but not now, not here. Meanwhile, you have my deepest condolences."

Compiled by Kathleen Macknicki, Anchorage Daily News.


By Kathleen Macknicki
Anchorage Daily News