Cover image for Better to rest : a Liam Campbell mystery
Better to rest : a Liam Campbell mystery
Stabenow, Dana.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : New American Library, 2002.
Physical Description:
262 pages ; 22 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Clarence Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Clearfield Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Collins Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Grand Island Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Lancaster Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Orchard Park Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Julia Boyer Reinstein Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Audubon Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

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"Alaska's finest mystery writer" ( Anchorage Daily News ) has given readers a hero to cheer for. Alaska state trooper Sergeant Liam Campbell is the representative of law and order in the fishing village of Newenham-yet struggles to keep his own life on an even keel. Now, just when his future is starting to heat up, he delves into a case of a downed WWII army plane found mysteriously frozen in a glacier.

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 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Sgt. Liam Campbell's fourth outing (following 2000's Nothing Gold Can Stay) finds the Alaska state trooper exploring an old plane crash and a new murder in a story marked by Edgar winner Stabenow's superb depictions of the Alaskan landscape and its willful inhabitants. The discovery of a WWII-era American army plane embedded in the face of a glacier raises a surprising number of questions. And the murder of a feisty, elderly matriarch leads to some surprising revelations about her active life. Having through a misstep in his career landed in the small fishing town of Newenham on the eastern edge of Bristol Bay, Campbell now has a chance to return to Anchorage, but he's not sure he wants to. For one thing, there's his unresolved relationship with pilot Wyanet "Wy" Chouinard, typical of the many intriguingly complex relationships with which the author has filled the plot. The bonds of love, blood ties and friendships play out in convincing and satisfying fashion. Stabenow also laces her story with Alaskan history, from the development spurred by WWII, including the upgrade of the Alaska Railroad and construction of the Alcan Highway, to the halcyon days and more recent decline of the fishing industries. Passionate about his work and perhaps more clear-headed about his professional life than his personal life, Campbell makes an engaging hero, one who bids fair to become as popular as Kate Shugak, the heroine of Stabenow's other, long-running series. (Sept. 3) FYI: The author's most recent Kate Shugak novel is A Fine and Bitter Snow (Forecasts, May 27). (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter 3 Liam and Diana were still recovering from the fit of giggles caused by the vampire-disposal kit when they pulled up in front of the small square building with the Last Frontier Bank sign over the door. A burly man waited for them on the steps. He had a belly like a beer barrel, a head like a rectangular bullet, hair that stood up all over it in stiff white bristles, and a scowl carving lines into his cheeks and forehead. He wore button-fly jeans and a blue cashmere sweater with a button-down collar peeking out from underneath the crew neck. Liam suspected that the laces on his boots were ironed. "Brewster," he said as he stepped out of the white Chevy Blazer with the badge of his service emblazoned on its door. The burly man gave a curt nod. "Campbell. Took your time getting here." Liam felt rather than saw Diana stiffen. "We had some things to take care of at the post." He hitched up his gun belt. "Molly says somebody tried to steal your ATM again." Brewster Gibbons, manager of Newenham's only bank and general pain in the civic ass, watched Liam's hand settle on the butt of the nine-millimeter Smith & Wesson strapped to his right hip. "Yes." Liam ambled forward to inspect the machine secured to the wall of the bank. Its corners were dented. Further investigation found a length of heavy galvanized chain tossed in a careless heap beneath the porch, as well as a horizontal burn in the right-hand upright of the porch railing, and two deep ruts in the driveway. The last two links of the chain were bent open, as if the chain had been made from clay. "Looks like someone tried to haul it off, all right." In spite of its wounds, the machine's screen continued to flash advertisements for credit cards and car loans and home mortgages. Liam got out his wallet and inserted his cash card. Obediently, the machine spit out fifty dollars. "Although it doesn't seem to have hurt it much." He stuffed the cash into his wallet and the wallet back into his pocket. "My turn to cook dinner," he told the bank manager. "I'm thinking take-out chicken from the deli counter at Eagle." Prince made a face. "I don't know, sir, that burrito I got from there was pretty awful. You might want to reconsider." "What I want to know," Brewster said, his face tight and his eyes angry, "is what you intend to do about it." "I don't know," Liam said. "Probably pick up some Maalox on my way through the checkout counter." Brewster Gibbons took a visible breath, looked again at the hand resting on the gun butt, and bit back what he had been about to say. A raven's soft croak sounded from a nearby tree, followed by a series of click-click-clicks and craaaa-acks . A stiff breeze blew on shore from Bristol Bay, dropping the already crisp chill factor to a temperature close to freezing. After a summer's absence the stars had returned to the Alaskan sky, and Liam looked up to let the Big Dipper show him the way to the North Star. Brewster stood it for as long as he could. "Well? Somebody tried to rob my bank! I want to know what you're going to do about this! When Anchorage finds out, they're going to want some answers, and they're going to be talking to our friends in Juneau!" Diana Prince hadn't been working with Liam Campbell for even four months, but it was long enough to look at Brewster Gibbons and think, You poor dumb bastard. Every two years Brewster Gibbons contributed five hundred dollars to the campaign of anyone of the Democratic, Republican or Libertarian persuasion running for state office from the Newenham district and thought that bought him influence. It was the maximum amount allowed by law, as anyone in Alaska could have told him, and was standard operating procedure for any businessman covering his political bets. It hardly rated a thank-you note. But then, she'd always been something of a cynic when it came to politics. Without ceasing communion with the celestial beings overhead, Liam said, "Trooper Prince? How many times has someone attempted to kidnap Mr. Gibbons' cash machine?" "I believe this makes it four times, sir." "Uh-huh. And the first time was, when, exactly?" "That would be June. June sixth, I believe." "Hmmm. And the method used?" "The first time they wrapped an electrical cord around the machine and pulled. The cord snapped." "I see. And the second?" "The second time was eight days later, the fourteenth. This time they tried to open it up with a saw." "A saw. Refresh my memory. What happened?" "The blade snapped in two. Mr. Gibbons found pieces of it on the porch when he came in in the morning." She added, "The night before, a Ferdinand Volinario called to say that his shop had been broken into, and that he was missing some tools, including an electric Skilsaw." "I'd forgotten all about Nando," Liam said. "Well done, Trooper Prince. And the third time?" She hesitated just long enough to make it interesting. "We think a sledgehammer, sir, but we're not absolutely sure. The machine was pretty severely dented. You can still see some of the dents." She pointed. Liam lowered his eyes to peer at the machine. "So you can." He laid hands on the machine and tried to rock it loose. It wouldn't budge. "Pretty sturdy piece of equipment," he told Gibbons, his tone congratulatory. "You've got it fastened down pretty solid, too." "We can only hope they ripped their axle out," Prince said. "Your security camera working yet?" Liam said. Gibbons' flush was easy to see from the light over the door. "I need to pull it and send it to Anchorage to get it fixed." "Yeah. Camera on the machine itself working yet?" "Not since June." "Uh-huh. Did you see anything yourself?" Gibbons lost patience. "I didn't have to! It was Teddy Engebretsen or John Kvichak or Paul Urbano or Mac MacCormick or one of that worthless bunch, or maybe the whole boiling lot of them together! You know it as well as I do! I want you to go over there and arrest them!" "Did you see Teddy Engebretsen this evening, Brewster?" A brief silence. "Brewster? Did you see Teddy Engebretsen trying to kidnap your ATM machine?" "No," Gibbons said, his face sullen. "How about John Kvichak? No? Then Paul Urbano? Again no? Brewster, I know you watch a lot of television, with that fancy new satellite dish and all, so I know you have at least a speaking acquaintance with probable cause. Absent witnesses, absent evidence, I have no reason to suspect Teddy or John or Paul of anything except smoking a little dope at Tasha Anayuk's Saturday-night party." Not lately, anyway, he thought. "In the meantime, in spite of someone's best efforts, it doesn't look like your machine is going anywhere. Get your security cameras fixed or hire a security guard or both, and maybe we'll catch them in the act next time." "Next time! I don't want there to be a next time! And where the hell am I supposed to hire a security guard in Newenham?" "Job Service in Anchorage always has clients looking for employment," Liam said, and tipped his flat-brimmed Mountie hat in grave salute on his way back to the Blazer. "Job Service! Sure, if I wanted to hire a moron who-" The rest of Brewster Gibbons' words were cut off when Liam's door closed. "All the same," Prince said when he put it in gear, "it probably was Teddy or John or Paul. Or Art Inga and Dave Iverson. Or-" "Probably," Liam agreed. "Which is why we're going over to John's to say hi." "Did I mention that I have a hot date tonight?" Prince wondered out loud. "And that I'm already late?" "Did I mention that so do I, and so am I, and that I've got a better chance of getting laid at the end of it than you do?" Liam said, wondering if it was true. "Just a passing comment," Prince said, and slumped in her seat with a sigh. Liam pulled out onto the road and put the Blazer into a skid over the icy ruts. The road looked like his life. He hit the gas and powered out of the skid, the rear wheels missing the ditch by a hair. Next to him Prince let out a pent-up breath. Things had cooled off considerably between Liam and Wy since John Barton's offer to bring Liam back to Anchorage. It was the difference between fire and ice, and ice, as the poet foretold, for destruction was also great and would suffice. He knew it was partly his fault; he was holding both Wy and Tim in limbo, which made him feel guilty. He was pissing off John Barton, too, who was calling on average once a day before breakfast to bellow down the line for Liam to shit or get off the pot in tones clearly audible all over Wy's house. The job wasn't helping much, either. He and Prince had been hard at it for a solid month, responding to a series of burglaries, robberies and assaults aggravated by the rapidly weakening economy. It was the first practical lesson Liam had learned in the practice of law enforcement: It was easy to obey the law when your kids had full bellies. He understood, but it was not comforting to watch the lives of the people under his protection fall apart. Especially while he seemed to be helpless to stop the deterioration of his own. Newenham, population two thousand, was a fishing town and regional market hub sitting on the eastern edge of Bristol Bay. It was built on a thick deposit of silt and clay washed down by the Nushugak River, and its topography consisted mostly of rolling hills covered with stands of birch and alder and fireweed and spruce clustered around houses with vinyl siding and trailers and mobile homes and log cabins with sod roofs and Quonset huts left over from World War II. There wasn't a straight street downtown; a series of looping curves wound around that part of Newenham with delusions of grandeur, city and business buildings in all their prefabricated glory and even a town house condominium complex sitting at the edge of the river overlooking the small boat harbor. A forest of masts of varying heights crowded the slips like nursing piglets, their backs to the bay and another bad fishing season. By February only a quarter of their skippers would have filed for bankruptcy, if the town was lucky. Meanwhile, they were all drinking their misery away, and their good sense with it. Wy could have offered some solace, some counsel, he thought, taking a corner too fast. Instead she had withdrawn behind a façade that was as cool as it was irritating. Anyone would think she didn't care if he went or stayed. Anyone would think that she was just waiting for him to screw up so she'd have the opportunity to kick him out. Not that she'd ever asked him to move in in the first place. What was her problem with that, anyway? They were single, in love, in heat, had a boy who needed two parents, had jobs that gave them financial security; just what the hell was her problem? Was it him? Was it marriage? He could have asked. He could win everything or lose it all, but he feared his fate too much. What was the name of that poem? After a moment's thought it came to him. "My Dear and Only Love." Figured. The author, as he recalled, had wound up with his head on a pike outside London, the only proper end for anyone who dared to put that much truth into rhyme. The road straightened out and he stepped on the gas, only to send the vehicle into a protesting fishtail. "Did you say something, sir?" Diana Prince said, knuckles white on the door handle. He let up on the gas. "No." Sometimes he thought he read too much poetry. --from Better To Rest by Dana Stabenow, copyright © 2003 Dana Stabenow, published by Signet, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., all rights reserved, reprinted with permission from the publisher. Excerpted from Better to Rest by Dana Stabenow All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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