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Beneath The Ashes by Sue Henry - Book Review


Beneath The Ashes
Sue Henry
Avon Books

Fiction-Net Rating 4 Star Rated Book

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Cover Story

In a breathtaking land of ice and cold, death has come - by fire.

In the lingering chill of the early Alaskan spring, famed "musher" Jessie Arnold confronts the charred remains of a favourite local pub, destroyed by a suspicious blaze that claimed an innocent, unsuspecting life. This lull between racing seasons is meant to be a time of grueling training and conditioning for Jessie and her dogsled team but instead it has become a time of fear, because the burning has only begun and its flames will scar and blister Jessie's world in ways she can barely imagine. And in the wake of more death, her next race will be one for survival as she struggles to determine whether a desperate friend is a terrified victim - or a killer.

We Say

Often, writers are told to write about what they know. Unfortunately, some writers do not follow this advice. In their attempt to create an interesting setting for their stories, writers will sometimes glamorise or romanticise an area. By substituting insufficient research for actual experience, many writers end up discrediting their own work.

It is for these reasons that I decided to read and review Sue Henry's novel, Beneath The Ashes. Since my husband is a musher, I thought that this novel would be good for a few laughs. Well, I was disappointed. Sue Henry knows her stuff and she manages to avoid most clichés about living in Alaska. In Beneath The Ashes, Henry combines a murder mystery with the reality of a musher living in the far North.

Anyone who knows anything about Alaska knows that it is a male dominated environment. That is not to say that women do not do well in Alaska but it does take a certain type. Sue Henry creates such a woman in her very memorable heroine, Jessie Arnold. Self-sufficient and confident, Jessie is not easily frightened by the increasingly dangerous circumstances that she finds herself in when an old acquaintance calls her in the middle of the night. A series of arsons results in Jessie doubting the friendships of those around her and eventually fighting for her life. Unable to determine how the arsonist fits in with those Jessie already knows, Jessie must rely on herself in order to live.

As murder mysteries go, Beneath The Ashes is not a tale that is woven as tightly as I would have liked. There were some loose ends at the end of the novel that Henry failed to tidy up sufficiently. Even with these minor shortcomings, her characters are believable and her descriptions of dog mushing realistic and educational. Overall the author manages to write a mystery that captures the imagination. Although this would not be a novel that I would consider outstanding, what Henry manages to get right makes this a novel worth looking at.

Review by: Yumi Nagasaki-Taylor

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