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"Murder on the Iditarod Trail" by Sue Henry

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Many years ago, my pen pal in Anchorage, Alaska sent me a newspaper supplement devoted to Alaska's traditional Iditarod dogsled race. The 1,049 mile long Iditarod Trail from Anchorage to Nome was established at first as a mail and supply route during Alaska's Gold Rush Period. To commemorate the journeys of the dogsledders that originally ran that route, today's Iditarod contestants carry specially stamped mail on their sleds as they negotiate the challenging, exhausting and dangerous trail.

I read the newspaper supplement from cover to cover, fascinated as I am with cold weather and the activities that go along with it. Not to long after that, the same pen pal sent me Sue Henry's debut novel, Murder on the Iditarod Trail.

Published in 1991, and winner of the Anthony Award and the Macavity Award, both for "Best First Mystery," Murder on the Iditarod Trail chronicles the adventures of a musher (as Iditarod contestants are known) and a State Trooper as the former tries to elude and the latter tries to catch the person responsible for the deaths of three mushers and the maiming of three more.

As all good mystery writers, Sue Henry keeps the reader guessing as to who could be the culprit and casts some doubt even on the motivations of the Protagonists themselves. While the reader gets to know the mushers and troopers and tries each on for size as a murderer and saboteur, the reader also learns interesting details about the Iditarod race, its rules and its hardships, and what kind of fortitude it takes to finish the race.

To add to the novel's attraction, Ms. Henry throws in some g-rated romance between the female musher, Jesse Arnold, and the state trooper, Alex Jensen. Murder on the Iditarod Trail is an enjoyable and interesting novel that will leave you just a little sorry when the reading is finished, not because the ending is unsatisfying, but because you would really like to see more of the characters.


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