About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Monday, July 23, 2012

“J” is for Stan Jones

The Alphabet in Crime Fiction meme hosted by Kerrie Smith at Mysteries in Paradise has almost reached the half-way point of the alphabet. For “J” I am profiling Alaskan author, Stan Jones. He features State Trooper, Nathan Active, in his series.

Stan was born in Anchorage, Alaska and spent a few years in Tennessee with his parents before they returned to Alaska when he was 12.

On his website he has a fine understated paragraph on a pivotal time in his life:

I spent a pleasant but basically aimless life until I moved to the Inupiat Eskimo village Kotzebue in my late twenties.  I found the lovely, barren Arctic landscape absolutely mesmerizing, the extreme climate a joy, and the Native culture fascinating.  I landed Bush planes on the sea ice, drove snowmachines over the tundra, hunted moose and caribou, and once helped paddle a sealskin umiaq in pursuit of a bowhead whale on the Chukchi Sea off Point Hope.

There are more remote places in the United States but not very many.

With 3,201 people it is the largest centre in the Northwest Arctic Borough and no place to get a sun tan. It is reported that there are an average of 5 days a year over 21C.

After departing Kotzebue Jones has worked as a journalist. His investigations include reports on the Exxon Valdez spill and he has co-authored a non-fiction book on the topic, The Spill: Personal Stories from the Exxon Valdez Disaster.

Jones speaks of the influence of Kotzebue:

After I left Kotzebue, I found the country, weather and people of Northwest Alaska more interesting than ever, and so started the Nathan Active series.  The fictional village of Chukchi is modeled on Kotzebue in many respects, and some of the characters in the series are loosely crafted around real people I knew.

I have read the first two books in the Nathan Active series – White Sky Black Ice and Shaman Pass. I enjoyed both of them. White Sky Black Ice tied for Third Most Interesting in Bill’s Best of 2009. It was also my entry in "J" in last year's Alphabet in Crime Fiction meme. Shaman Pass tied for Third Best Fiction in Bill’s Best of 2010.

Jones has an ability to create an interesting mystery that is firmly placed in the people and geography of its location.

He also has a keen appreciation of the Inuit people of Northwest Alaska. In my review of Shaman Pass I said:

The importance of humour in indigenous life is constantly present in the book. Jones evokes the playful exchanges between indigenous people – not quite teasing, not really needling, on the edge of sarcastic, occasionally biting, always entertaining.

He evokes precisely the language I am used to when dealing with my Cree Indian clients.

Finally, I enjoyed exchanging emails with him. He promptly replied to each of my contacts.

I look forward to reading more in the series.


  1. Bill - I am very glad you profiled Jones. He's got a very interesting background which I appreciate your sharing. And I agree that his writing evokes the place very effectively. He is also both respectful to and honest about the indigenous people in that area when he writes. A great choice for J.

  2. Very good overview and an interesting author. You convey your enthusiasm for his books very well. Adding him to my ever growing list.

  3. Unusual place for an author to live, but looks interesting.

  4. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I hope the series can be extended.

  5. TracyK: Thanks for commenting. Jones is an author worth getting excited about reading.

  6. Scott: Thanks for the comment. Jones lives in the large city of Anchorage but Kotzebue is on the perimeter of the world.

  7. I've read about Stan Jones around and about in the mystery readers' blogosphere and have been thinking of getting his books out of the library.

    Then a friend who loves to read about Canada appeared with an armful of fiction set in the noble North -- and it includes books by Jones.

    Great to read that he has lived with and knows Indigenous peoples.

  8. kathy d.: Thanks for the comment. Jones is an interesting author. His mysteries could not take place anywhere othar than the Northwest coast of Alaska.