REVIEW - FIVE FINGER LIGHT
Henry, Sue, Murder at Five Finger Light. New American Library. Hardbound. 272 pages. Two maps. $23.95.
Islands and lighthouses are of never-ending appeal. It’s easy to see the charm of islands - who wouldn’t want to have their own continent? Lighthouses are a bit trickier. Perhaps it’s the thought of steady, reassuring aid; always doing their job of saving vessels from rocks and reefs.
Whatever, a murder mystery that combines an island and a lighthouse is a ready-made theme. Like Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, the thrill of a small group confined on an island, being killed one-by-one, leaving the survivors to wonder who might the murderer be, is prime material.
Henry isn’t quite so ruthless with her penned-up group of friends. Only two are killed, but most of the others are captured and terrified. After all, who wants to wind up in an underground concrete dungeon, especially when there is a good chance no help is coming.
Our hero, Jessie Arnold, is a dog musher who accepts an invitation to join friends in Southeast Alaska as they volunteer to restore Five Finger Light. Like most of the lighthouses in Alaska, it was automated years ago and the building given to a non-profit group for its repair and use. Located on a treacherous area of islands and reefs, it is isolated from Petersburg, the closest town, by about thirty miles of Frederick Sound.
Staying overnight in Petersburg, Jessie is accosted by a young woman who is in deadly fear of a stalker. Pitying her, our hero allows her to come along to the light, where she will be safe. However, the stalker manages to come along - or does he?
Someone certainly is roaming the island and meaning no good.
The author has a nice way with setting the scene. Those familiar with Southeast Alaska will nod knowingly and those who are not will find a good description.
Friends of Jessie Arnold will be highly pleased with her latest adventure.
It is cheating to reveal the details of a mystery, so it will suffice to say not all people are who they appear to be, and the story has a happy ending.
Henry has not only generously included Juneau locals Jennifer Klein and Ed McIntosh in her Acknowledgments, but also dedicated the book to them as “The real owners of Five Finger Lighthouse, who are restoring and keeping alive an important piece of Alaskan history.”