Several years ago, when I was working on a fishing rights case, I visited the western Alaska village, Kwethluk, with other members of the law firm. Kwethluk is a spot far away from the tourist industry. To get there, we flew an hour and a half on a jet to Bethel and then traveled fifteen miles by riverboat.
The village, a collection of small houses, is built on stilts, allowing for freeze, thaw, and flooding of the river. During this visit, my group was taken to a nearby fishcamp where the locals live during fishing season and where they harvest and dry king and red salmon on outdoor racks, tossing scraps to the puppies hanging around the racks.
This is how the Yup’iks have lived for centuries, traveling the river, fishing, hunting. It is their heritage and their legacy, and it was quite an honor to visit their home. The fishcamp scene became the prologue of my second Maeve Malloy novel.
HEMLOCK NEEDLE is about a young Yup’ik chief financial officer and single mother, Esther Fancyboy, who walks out of party and into a blizzard. She is never seen again, leaving behind a seven-year-old son, Evan.
The local cops say she’ll come home when she’s done partying, but family friend Maeve Malloy doesn’t think it’s that simple. She goes looking for Esther just as she’s getting bad news of her own, a career-ending accusation.
When Esther’s body turns up in a snow berm and a witness is shot to death in front of Maeve, she suspects Evan is in danger. Maeve must race against time to save the boy – along with her career, and maybe her life.
HEMLOCK NEEDLE is being released today by Level Best Books. Available in paperback and e-book: Buy here!