Murder Over Kodiak, by Robin Barefield, is a clever Alaskan-set mystery that will keep readers guessing until the final pages.
Research biologist Jane Marcus has a bad feeling when the floatplane she’s waiting for is late. On the plane is her young research assistant. The weather is perfect and Jane is familiar with the charter company. While Jane hopes there’s a good reason for the delay she fears the worst.
And indeed the worst has happened. A bomb has exploded on the plane she’s waiting for, and there are little remains left of the pilot and five passengers. Why would someone place a bomb on a plane in such a remote area? The FBI arrives, as does the media, bringing national attention to Kodiak Island. Jane is swept up into the investigation. Will she survive?
Murder mysteries are appealing on many levels. The suspense keeps readers glued to their seats. Dread makes them read through the cracks of their fingers sometimes. However, they are also fun for those who like to play the guessing game of whodunit. This novel drops morsels here and there and careful readers will gobble them up. And yet, the ending is still a shock. It’s not so shocking that it’s unbelievable. Barefield has done an excellent job of creating enough distractions to keep the reader guessing and it would be interesting to read the novel again to pick up on all the missed clues. This is a mark of a great mystery novel and writer.
The author relies on human nature to muddy the waters. Many of us have some type of secret and for the most part they stay buried unless extreme circumstances bring them to the surface. When the plane explodes it’s not just the police and FBI that start digging into the victims’ backgrounds. The people who knew them start to question things as well. Gossip and rumors run rampant in the small community. It’s exciting for the reader and it’s also disconcerting when one starts to wonder what would be said or hinted at if this happened to us or a loved one.
The setting plays a vital role in Murder Over Kodiak and it’s clear that Barefield is intimately acquainted with Kodiak Island and brings it to life in the reader’s mind. Also the main character is a research biologist and Barefield’s background in science help her explain the technical aspects with a sense of ease and curious readers will appreciate the little nuggets of information.
One issue with the novel is the lack of proofreading. Too many times punctuation marks are misplaced or missing. At other times words are misspelled, including a character’s name. These silly errors mar an entertaining and well-crafted whodunit mystery. The author took great pains to keep the reader guessing. Unfortunately, she wasn’t as careful with the editing process. Even simple mistakes knock a reader out of the story momentarily and if this happens repeatedly it gets frustrating.
Aside from the minor issues, many readers will find themselves racing to the end to find out who planted the bomb and why.