This is an original and stirring mystery set in Alaska among the Inuit community. Jones creates a stunningly authentic sense of Alaskan history and of a culture still in the throes of change. The second instalment in the "Nathan Active" series sees the state trooper investigate the theft of a sacred Inupiat mummy. Well-intended "naluaqmiut" (white men) at the Smithsonian have sent mummified "Uncle Frosty" to a museum, only to have the body stolen by villagers wishing to respect traditional native funeral customs. When a tribal elder turns up impaled on the mummy's harpoon at his lonely ice-fishing outpost, an extensive investigation is launched across a vast barren area. Active interviews a fascinating series of suspects living in isolated hunting and whaling camps and in squalid igloos, each with an intriguing story to tell. Active soon finds himself caught in a struggle between the fearsome power of Shamans (pagan devil doctors) and the legacy of Natchiq, a murdered prophet and social reformer.
In time, both the trooper and the reader achieve a deeper level of understanding of bygone traditions in a remote society where snowmobiles are replacing dogsleds and young children crave Pokemon cards. Jones skilfully depicts the beauty and desolation of the "treeless tundra" in winter as well as the hardships of survival in one of the world's most hostile climates. In the compelling ending, Active and his posse fly to a remote mountain pass to hunt for Uncle Frosty and his abductor. A handy Inupiat glossary and background history is included.
Praise for Shaman Pass
"In a robust sequel to White Sky, Black Ice, this Alaska state trooper is still burdened by his urban upbringing and his aversion to ice and snow . . . Active maintains his awe of the vast Alaskan tundra, a forbidding region that Jones renders in all its bone-chilling beauty."
--The New York Times Book Review
"Jones captures in precise detail . . . the starkly individual spirit of this village's collection of characters . . . His depiction of a freezing world of tar-paper houses and whaling camps is absolutely convincing . . . The effect is one of wry immersion in a mildly cantankerous society whose members are eccentric only in comparison to 'the outside.'"
"Solid police work in a cold climate."
"Stirring . . . Jones skillfully depicts the beauty and desolation of the 'treeless tundra' in winter as well as the hardships of survival in one of the world's harshest climates."
"Jones creates a stunning authentic sense of Alaskan history and of culture still in the throes of change."