Beth Rivers stumbles upon more trouble in the tiny community of Benedict, Alaska, in Paige Shelton’s thrilling whodunit, Dark Night. The third installment in the Alaska Wild series finds Beth, who is working as the community’s lone journalist, investigating a case of domestic abuse that may have resulted in murder.
Known to the world at large as best-selling author Elizabeth Fairchild, Beth wants nothing more than to keep a low profile to avoid attracting any attention from her former abductor, who remains at large. Shelton quickly brings readers up to speed on these details and the events of the previous two novels in the series (Thin Ice and Cold Wind) in the opening chapter, just before unveiling the murder of local resident Ned Withers. Ned, who has abused his wife, Claudia, is found dead in what amounts to the town square, having been murdered in the middle of the night.
Initial suspicions naturally fall on an outsider: census taker Doug Vitner, who received a less than hearty welcome from Ned and the community at large and disappeared shortly after Ned’s death. (“We were all a secretive bunch. It wasn’t just me,” Beth muses at one point.) Along with her mother, a self-styled private investigator on the trail of her own missing husband, and police chief Gril Samuels, the only one in town who knows Beth’s secret, Beth begins piecing together the clues that will reveal the killer before they can escape, or worse, strike again.
Though she’s best known for her cozy mysteries, Shelton displays a talent for ratcheting up the tension in this series. As Beth’s fears and paranoia increase, events unravel at a rapid pace. Isolated from the Alaska mainland and cut off by an approaching winter storm, it’s increasingly difficult for Beth to know who she can trust—if anyone. You’ll want to bundle up against the cold dread, suspense and tension that permeate this mystery.