Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Winter's End by Paige Shelton
Series: Alaska Wild Mysteries #4
Published by St. Martin's Press on December 6, 2022
Amazon, Audible, Libro.fm, Barnes & Noble, Apple
It’s springtime in Benedict, Alaska, and with it the warmer weather comes an unseasonably somber local tradition...the annual Death March. At the end of each brutal winter, citizens gather downtown and then break into groups to search the community for those who might have somehow gotten stuck at home. Beth Rivers sets off with her friend Orin and dog Gus, toward the cabin of an elderly resident, intending to check on him.
When they reach the cabin, the old man is alive, but not in the best shape. Beth stays with him while Orin hurries to town for help, but it’s not Orin who returns. Gril comes back with shocking news, and it soon becomes clear that Orin has also vanished. When they discover that their friend has been doing some top-secret research, they start to worry he’s been exposed, or worse.
Meanwhile, Beth continues on her own search, for her father, who allegedly is alive in Mexico, but won't return her calls. Still, she's making progress in healing from her own trauma, though can't quite shake the feeling she's being followed..
I was happy to continue the Alaska Wild Mysteries. I would read the series in order as both the mystery plot arc and the personal relationships grow throughout the series. Each book has smaller mysteries in addition to, and sometimes tangled up in, the main series mysteries. Beth came to Alaska to hide from a stalker. She doesn’t remember everything about her abduction and keeps her story close as she isn’t sure who to trust. She is getting to know and trust more people in this small town.
Benedict Alaska has some small town quirkiness. One thing is each year at Winter’s End, they hold an event called the annual Death March. Everyone comes into town to check in so the town knows they are ok. Anyone who doesn’t show up, the sheriff or deputy goes to find them. Sometimes people forgot, or they are old and not up to a trek into town, and sometimes they are dead.
Beth goes with Orin to check on an older man. They find him at his home. Beth tries to get some food in him and Orin goes for medical help. Orin disappears. Beth worries about another husband and wife, Warren and Kaye who haven’t turned up.
Beth is taking care of some dogs left by a friend. She takes one herself and another has been rehomed with Kaye. She likes Kaye and hopes they will be friends. Warren’s family and another family have had an ongoing feud, so there’s worry they are why Warren and Kaye are missing. There is also a new person at the halfway house and it’s a male! They have never had a male, and he’s an awesome cook.
So there is plenty happening and Beth jumps into everything trying to solve all the mysteries herself. That seems a bit unrealistic to me but she does it in every book and the sheriff lets her do it. She really puts herself in danger too. She has a good mind for investigating but no physical / defensive skills. A couple big story arcs are resolved here so it will be interesting to see where things go next.
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