Cover image for Nothing gold can stay : a Liam Campbell mystery
Nothing gold can stay : a Liam Campbell mystery
Stabenow, Dana.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Dutton, [2000]

Physical Description:
275 pages ; 23 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Newstead Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Kenmore Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Orchard Park Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
City of Tonawanda Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

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From Edgar award-winning author Dana Stabenow comes the third book in her acclaimed Liam Campbell series-a suspenseful, atmospheric novel of murder, elusive justice, and a terrifying truth that stretches back nearly twenty years A few years after losing his wife and young son in a tragic accident, Alaska state trooper Liam Campbell has finally begun to make a new life in Newenham, a remote fishing village of proud, independent natives where the currents of loyalty, fear, and violence run deep. Campbell's latest investigation into a seemingly routine homicide-a robbery gone bad-becomes something else when the first murder is followed by a second ...then a third. Soon a chilling pattern begins to emerge-a twisting path that leads him back through the years and into the sights of a diabolical killer whose hidden agenda could have fatal consequences for Campbell and those he loves. A novel as fresh and exhilarating as the landscape that is the setting for her popular series, Nothing Gold Can Stay is Dana Stabenow at her very best.

Author Notes

Dana Stabenow is the author of the Kate Shugak series for Putnam/Berkley and the Liam Campbell Series for Dutton/Signet.

She lives in Anchorage, Alaska.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In this third Liam Campbell mystery, Liam and his girlfriend, Wyanet Chouinard, discover that trouble comes in threes. The abusive birth mother of Wyanet's adopted son wants to exercise her visitation rights; old romances turn a house party into an emotional cauldron; and brutal murder terrorizes the Alaskan bush. With patience, determination, guile and humor, Wyanet and Liam defuse the domestic problems and find the murderer, who turns out to lurk quite close to home. Stabenow eloquently describes Alaskan life in her portrayal of Newenham, a fishing village, and the small communities in the bush. She also captures the joys and perils of flying and the magic and method of gold mining. As in Coel's Spirit Woman (see p.68), the themes of domestic violence and women braving the wilderness are keys to unraveling the book's mystery and understanding its characters. Like Coel, Sue Henry, and others, Stabenow has a gift for describing native cultures and the nature of contemporary life in the wilderness. --John Rowen

Publisher's Weekly Review

In Stabenow's third Alaska State Trooper Liam Campbell mystery (following 1998's Fire and Ice), the physical descriptions of Alaska are awesome: Stabenow places you right in this lonely, breathtaking country. But a novel needs more than scenery and here the scenery, so beautifully evoked that it serves as another character, can't move the story along by itself. When Liam's lover, pilot Wy Chouinard, discovers the murdered Opal Nunapitchuk while delivering mail at lonely Kagati Lake, she calls Campbell and his assistant, Diane Prince. At first it seems a random assault; then a woman disappears after her husband is killed at their gold mining claim. When the troopers connect the crimes with a 20-year-old string of missing women, they know they're following a previously undetected serial killer. Meanwhile, Wy's adopted teenage son, Tim, is again in danger from his alcoholic birth mother. Wy hastens him to Moses Alakuyak's fish camp at Old Man Creek, where Moses and his girlfriend, Bill, take care of the boy. When Peter Cole, whose cabin is another stop on Wy's mail run, is found dead, she plots the track of the present crimes and realizes the madman is headed for Old Man Creek. Edgar-winner Stabenow is an accomplished writer whose books, including the Kate Shugak and the Star Svensdotter series, are always entertaining. But in this one the sense of place overwhelms everything else, although that may be what Alaska is all about. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter One Newenham, September 1 A seven-foot Jayco popup camper perched unsteadily in the back of a Ford F250 truck is not the best of all possible beds for a six-foot-two-inch man. Even sleeping corner to corner, Liam's feet still stuck over the edge. There was no toilet, no shower and no place to hang his clothes, in particular his uniform, which, to uphold the dignity of the Alaska State Troopers, maintain the authority of the judicial system and invoke the might and majesty of the law, should at least begin the day unwrinkled.     On the other hand, the Ford F250 was parked in the driveway of Wyanet Chouinard. He had free access to Wy's kitchen, Wy's laundry room and Wy's bathroom. He had free access to Wy, when Tim wasn't home, as the door to Wy's bedroom was six feet down the hall from Wy's bathroom. Even if the bed in that bedroom was smaller than the one in the Jayco popup, Wy was in that bed, and he didn't really give a damn if his knees stuck out over one end of it and his head and shoulders the other.     Of course, Tim was home now, having returned from fish camp the day before to start school the day after Labor Day, so nights in Wy's bed, comfortable or not, would be severely curtailed. She'd made that clear last night. "No hanky-panky with the boy in the house."     "Is it hanky-panky if we're married?"     "We aren't married."     "Then let's get married."     "Not yet" was all she would say. "Not yet."     He rolled over on his back and stared at the ceiling fourteen inches from his nose, thinking of her less than fifty feet away, waking up in her bed. She slept in T-shirts, no panties. Handy, as he woke up with an erection pretty much every morning. He'd certainly put it to good use during the last month.     Not this morning. He cursed his way out of bed, stamped his legs into sweats and let himself out of the camper. He stretched and examined the southeastern horizon, where most of Newenham's weather came from. Partly cloudy, looked like. He lowered his eyes and stood for a moment regarding the Ford F250. At least it was a boy truck.     "A boy truck?" Wy had said.     "As opposed to a girl truck," Liam said.     "And a girl truck is--?"     "A smaller truck. Like a Ford Ranger, or a Dakota Sport."     She looked from the big brown truck to the little gray truck parked next to it. "Like my truck, do you mean? My truck's a girl truck?"     "No, your truck's an old man's truck."     "Why?"     "Because it's rusty and all the bumpers are dented and it needs a ring job and a front-end alignment and you have to hold the door on the canopy open with a bungee cord and add a quart of oil with every second or third gas tank, but it still runs. That makes it an old man's truck."     "Ah. So big trucks are boy trucks and little trucks are girl trucks, except for little trucks that need paint jobs, which are old men's trucks."     "Yes," he said. "Except for any truck of any size painted banana yellow."     "Oh."     "Or lipstick red."     "Uh-huh," she said.     "Then it's a girl truck."     "Right."     Except for the subject matter, it had been a repeat of one of those nothing and everything conversations they had so delighted in when they had first met, three years and a lifetime ago. In the interim, he had lost his wife and his son to a drunken driver, and very nearly his job as well, and she had acquired a new home, an air taxi and an adolescent son. They were still getting to know each other, feeling their way, on a direct heading, he hoped, for a permanent relationship, formalized by the local magistrate and vows, the whole nine yards. Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, The last of life, for which the first was made . Browning, not his favorite poet, but this time right on the mark.     The front door of the house was unlocked, and he padded down the hall.     Someone was already in the bathroom. He looked around and saw that Tim's door was still closed. Employing the covert tactics taught him at the trooper academy in Sitka, he opened Tim's door and saw the boy deeply asleep beneath a tangle of blankets, a book open on the floor next to his bed, noise coming from a set of headphones that had slipped from his ears.     He grinned and closed the door.     The bathroom door locked from the inside. "Tim?" Wy's voice came from behind the shower curtain.     Liam stepped out of his sweats and pulled the curtain to one side. Wy blinked at him through the water running down her face. "Liam!"     He stepped into the tub and pulled her against him.     "You can't be in here!"     He lifted her and kneed her legs apart.     "Tim is right down the--"     He kissed her and slipped inside her in the same moment.     "--haaaaaall," she said. Her other leg came up to wrap around his waist. "Liam," she whispered.     "Wy," he whispered back.     "We shouldn't be doing this," she said weakly, and arched her back to take him all the way inside her. "Tim might wake up. He could come in, he might--"     He paused. "Want me to stop?" He kissed her, the water running warm down his back. "I'll stop," he whispered.     "Noooooo," she said, and after that they didn't talk.     Liam and Wy were both late for work, and Wy was later because on a whim, she had reversed back into the driveway and run into the house to put on her gold hoop earrings. Liam had given her those hoops during a four-day trip to Anchorage three years before. The trip hadn't ended well and she hadn't worn them since. Today seemed like a good day to resurrect them. She was unaware of just how complacent the smile on her face was when she left home for the second time that morning, headed for Mad Trapper Memorial Airport and the headquarters for Nushagak Air Taxi Service, which business consisted of one Piper Super Cub, one Cessna 180, one small shack and Wy, owner and chief pilot.     Nushagak Air Taxi held the contract to deliver the U.S. mail north of Newenham, to settlements scattered along and to the west of the Nushagak River. Bristol Bay Air Freight held the contract for the east side of the river and for the communities south and west from Newenham to Togiak. Dagfinn Grant, the owner and operator of Bristol Bay Air Freight and Wy's direct competitor, had been her nemesis ever since the United States Postal Service had decided to spread governmental largesse around and carved off a slice of Grant's mail route to award to Wy. It was only ten villages, with mail service once a week year-round, but to Wy's one-woman operation it meant the difference between paying attorney fees for Tim's adoption or letting Tim be remanded to the custody of his mother, who had nearly killed him the last time he was in her care.     To Finn Grant, it meant war. When Wy was approached by potential passengers on a day that was booked solid, she directed them to Bristol Bay Air Freight. When Grant was approached by potential passengers on a day that was booked solid, they were told that there were no other air taxis in Newenham and that he'd try to squeeze them in sometime later in the week. Grant's pilots were forbidden, on pain of instant dismissal, to give Wy any information about weather or strip conditions anywhere in their mutual flying area, and Grant's mechanic had been docked a day's pay when he sold Wy an oil filter at cost.     Mechanics by nature being contrary, cantankerous and fiercely independent creatures, this one had told Grant to take his job and put it where the sun don't shine and marched across the primary Newenham runway beneath the nose of a taxiing Alaska Airlines 737, there to offer his services to Wy, at a discount. She couldn't afford to hire him on full-time, but she was grateful for the offer, and when he set up his own shop she'd directed pilots his way. Troy Gillis had been servicing her Piper Super Cub and her Cessna 180 for a year now. The engines on both planes had never sounded better, and when a boat skipper with more malice than brains had ripped up the fabric of the wings on her Cub that spring, Troy had had them recovered in two weeks.     Of course, this was just something else for Finn Grant to hold against Wy. She kept sending him her overflow business in hopes that in time he would come to realize how ridiculous the feud was. He ran a single Otter and two Beavers. With her Super Cub, she could get into strips for which his aircraft were too big, and her Cessna hauled only a maximum of six people. Finn could haul twelve in the Otter alone.     They should have been working together because there was certainly enough business to go around. Wy had toyed with the notion of adding a second Cessna to her fleet, but that would have meant hiring on another pilot, and that would mean she would have to start a payroll and find a group health insurance provider and begin paying Social Security and unemployment. It might have been the smart thing to do as far as the business was concerned, but it would be the top of a slippery slope toward a desk for her, and from the age of sixteen, when she had first stepped into the cockpit of an aircraft, all she had ever wanted to do was fly. Her parents had wanted her to be a teacher, like them; fine, she had completed her degree in education, and the day after she had received her diploma had enrolled in flight school. They had sighed in disappointment but they hadn't stopped her. As her mother said to her father, she thought out of Wy's hearing, "She can teach from a wheelchair if she has to."     The postmaster, a short, bull-necked man with a too-tight collar and a red face, met her at the freight door. "You're late," he said.     "I know, I'm sorry, I got held up at home." Wy walked around to the back of her pickup and lowered the tailgate, and without further pleasantries helped the postmaster load the mail. Forms were signed in quadruplicate, and without another word the postmaster disappeared into the bowels of the big square building with the coppery-colored plastic siding. She cut him slack for his brusque manner; he was new to the job. The previous postmaster's wife had pled guilty to murder that summer, her very fancy lawyer having engineered a sentence that would have her out in eighteen months. Unable to hold his head up under the shame and disgrace of it all, her husband had given up the job of postmaster and joined the missionary corps of his church. Last Wy heard, he was on his way to Zimbabwe. She hoped the Zimbabweans were tolerant people.     She made it to the airport, calculated the weight of the freight and had to choose: two trips in the Cub or one trip in the Cessna. The Cessna was too big to get into two of the villages; the Cub too small to take all the mail at one go. Plus, she had a passenger scheduled, if he ever showed up.     Each destination had its own brown leather bag, strapped and locked; Kagati Lake had two and the two heaviest, but then that bunch of hard-core Bush dwellers had made an art form out of shipping everything by U.S. mail. Wy still remembered delivering cinder blocks for the foundation of a house, one at a time.     There was a single, small bag for Akamanuk. By its shape and weight, there was a prescription included with the letters. Probably Ted Gustafson's insulin, which came in every three months. Akamanuk's strip wasn't big enough for the Cessna, but she could get around that. Russell she could mail bomb, too. One trip and the Cessna it was, so long as her passenger didn't weigh three hundred pounds. She backed the Ranger LT around until the tailgate faced the cargo door. She had pulled the rear seats the night before and 68 Kilo was refueled and ready for loading.     She was topping off the tanks when she heard a car drive up and looked around to see Betty Reynolds pull her Ford Airstream van with the "Taxi" sign in the window up to the Chevron fuel pump.     "How you doing, Betty?"     "Hey, Wy. Got your passenger here. Sorry we're late, had to get help to get Rodney Graham out of the back."     "He passed out?"     Betty, a short, rotund woman with a square-cut bob of straight, fine brown hair and an unfiltered Camel fixed permanently to her lower lip, made a disgusted face. "My fault, I left the doors unlocked. He must have decided home was too far to crawl." The radio bolted to the dash crackled, and she answered briefly. "Gotta go. Good flying."     "Thanks."     Her passenger was a man with thinning gray hair combed carefully across his bald spot. He was carrying a buckled leather case that looked, she was pleased to see, heavier than he was. "Mr. Glanville?" she said, descending the stepladder.     "Ms. Chouinard?"     "Yes." They shook hands. "That van smelled vile," he said.     "I'm sure it did. Ready to go?"     Mr. Frederick Glanville of the Internal Revenue Service looked apprehensively at 68 Kilo, and was clearly rethinking the attraction of the vile-smelling van. "Is this little plane what we're going in?"     "Yes."     "And you're the pilot?"     "I am, and we're late," Wy said briskly, "so let's get a move on."     Glanville climbed in, clutching his briefcase on his knees. She removed it, helped him fasten his seat belt, stowed the case next to the survival kit (water, matches, mosquito dope, a compass, flares, two Kit Kat bars and half a dozen paperbacks; another month and it would be water, matches, compass, flares, parka, bunny boots, a Sterno stove, a couple of aluminum pouches of freeze-dried food, an itty bitty booklight and half a dozen paperbacks), and in ten minutes they were airborne and headed northwest. It was ten a.m. and she was behind schedule, but she had a nice little ten-knot tailwind and she'd make up some time in the air.     Her first stop was Mable Mountain, a hop of forty miles, and Drake Henderson was waiting at the end of the strip with his truck and as much attitude as the Newenham postmaster. Next came the ranger station on Four Lake. She buzzed the station before landing so they would meet her at the strip. They'd be coming out for the winter in a week's time, but they'd be coming out with Dagfinn Grant, so she didn't have to dawdle while they made plans.     Next up was a zig to Akamanuk, perching precariously on the edge of the Nushagak River two big bends above Newenham. She buzzed the homestead, two buildings, a short airstrip crowded with trees and a tilled rectangle of earth with what looked like a very healthy crop of potatoes. Ted came out and peered skyward. She turned, banked, dropped down to fifty feet and opened the window, straining a little against the force of the air generated by their forward motion. Wind roared through the cabin and the sound of the engine doubled in decibel level. Over the headphones Wy heard Mr. Glanville, silent until now, whimper the tiniest bit, but he made no other sound and she wouldn't have listened if he had. First pass she dropped a half-used roll of toilet paper, the end straggling free, the roll falling about ninety feet from Ted's front door. She could do better than that, and turning and banking again, she came around for a second pass, this time waiting another fifteen seconds before she dropped the mailbag.     It thudded onto the ground ten feet in front of Ted. She painted a lazy eight in the sky while he fetched it and checked the contents. She'd included a box of sugar-free chocolates, his favorite ballast, and he waved his thanks. She waggled her wings in reply and zagged north, following the river to another river community, Kokwok, this one with a bigger strip, where she deposited a relieved Mr. Glanville along with Kokwok's mailbag.     Between Warehouse Mountain and Kemuk she buzzed the mining camp on Nenevok Creek and dropped another bundle of magazines neatly in front of the shack, but no one had come out before she had to pull up and get out of the way of any one of three mountains that were trying to snag the Cessna by the wing. It had been a long summer for the miner's wife, and Wy could still remember the forlorn look on her face the last time Wy had dropped off a load of freight. But they would be coming out, along with the rangers, the following weekend. Wy bet the wife was counting the seconds.     Next stop Rainbow, where Pete Cole had left the mail to be picked up in a bag leaning against a stump at the end of the strip, surely a violation of the Postal Code, but who was going to tell? Certainly not her, and she had no intention of remonstrating with Pete, either. Pete didn't like visitors, women or engine noise, in that order and without discrimination. How he'd managed to become postmaster for Rainbow remained a mystery, considering he sorted the mail in the little shack he'd constructed at the extreme edge of his property for that purpose, and left the door unlocked so that no one would come up to the cabin bothering him for the mail. Probably Rainbow wasn't on the postal inspector's regular route. She traded the outgoing mailbag for the incoming one and was in the air in ten minutes.     Weary River next, in and out in twenty minutes, then a flyover of Russell, where she just missed putting the mailbag onto Devon Russell's roof. Devon shook a friendly fist at her, and Wy ran up and back on the prop pitch in reply. It would have to be the Super Cub next Wednesday, when the mail had to be picked up as well as dropped off.     Then the longest hop, north by northwest fifty miles to Kagati Lake. Half an hour on the ground and she could head for home. She checked her airspeed and then her watch, and grinned. She'd be back in Newenham by five o'clock.     Banker's hours.     Liam drove to work in a distracted frame of mind, mostly because he'd left his mind at home. Living with Wy did that to him. Or not living with Wy, or whatever the hell it was they were doing.     Take the books. They were all over the house. There was a copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in the bathroom, which she and Tim were reading simultaneously, different-colored sticky notes marking each other's places. The Human Factor by David Beattie sat on the kitchen counter, a book that after the first careless perusal Liam never picked up again, as it dealt with the hazards of planes and the flying of. On the coffee table in the living room sat a beat-up British paperback edition of Round the Bend , a book that in spite of also being about flying Liam liked very much, possibly because the narrator was a mechanic and a good one and worked very hard to see that the planes he worked on never broke in the air. Liam was convinced that every plane he was on was going to break in the air.     In the bedroom there were Ethan Frome, In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead, and Persuasion , from evidence of bookmarks being read simultaneously.     Liam read a lot, too, mostly history and poetry, but he'd never had books stacked back to back all going at once the way Wy did. He was pretty sure she had kept every book she'd ever read, too; there were bookcases in every room of the house including the bathroom, all flavors, essays by Carl Sagan, historical romances by Thomas B. Costain, the entire Oz collection.     He'd found her weeping one day the previous week, huddled over a much-thumbed copy of a mystery, one of a series. In this one the heroine's lover had died. She took it as a personal affront--"I can't believe she did that! How could she do that?"--and threw the book across the room, only to retrieve it a moment later and force him to listen to her read the death scene out loud. He was amazed at how involved she became in the story, and a little amused, but he was afraid that if he made some smart remark the next time she'd throw the book at him, so he kept his mouth shut.     It was something else to know about her, something they hadn't gotten around to sharing in that brief time they had had together three years before, something he could add to his growing store of information. He wanted to know everything about her, evenly single thing, from the way her toes curled when he bit the sole of her foot to the way she played air mandolin with John Hiatt, to the way she mothered Tim, the adopted son in the room down the hall.     A green Chevy Suburban pulled out suddenly from a side street and wavered from center line to shoulder, put on a brief spurt of speed, slowed down, speeded up again.     Well, hell. Liam hit the lights and the siren.     The Suburban put on another burst of speed and, just about the time he thought he might have a Hollywood car chase on his hands, screeched over to the side of the road and slammed on the brakes, skidding another four feet in the loose gravel before coming to a halt somewhat perpendicular to the line of traffic.     Liam got out of the Blazer. The driver got out of the Suburban. "Stay in your vehicle, ma'am," Liam said, but she ignored him, walking toward him with a step as straight as the course she had been driving.     He sighed. But this day had begun with such promise, he thought, struggling to master a reminiscent grin when the woman reached him. The smell of alcohol got to him first.     She stopped four feet away, glaring at him and weaving a little on her feet. This time he had no trouble holding back a smile. "Amelia, did you have breakfast at the Breeze Inn again?"     "Damn right," she said, blinking rapidly, as if trying and failing to focus. "I can do anything I wanna, I'm the councilman's wife."     "Yes, you are," Liam said, taking her by one arm.     She pulled free. "You know which councilman?" she said belligerently.     "Yes," he said, taking her arm again.     "That's Councilman Darren Gearhart," she said. " H-a-r-t . No e ."     "Yes," he said. This time she followed him to the passenger door of the Blazer.     "I'm his wife," she said as he sat her down. She leaned back against the headrest and fell asleep as easily and instantly as a child.     "Amelia, Amelia, Amelia," he said. "What the hell am I going to do with you?"     The letter of the law required that he take her into custody.     So he took her to Bill. Copyright © 2000 Dana Stabenow. All rights reserved.

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