Varni, Roy J., It Rains Murder Sometimes in Juneau. Alaska Litho, Juneau. 189 pages, 5 photographs, 1 map. Softbound. $12.95.

The author and his family lived in Juneau in the 1970s. So did a lot of people, but not many worked out at the Salmon Creek Powerhouse, one of the main sources of the cityís electricity. The 876 steps leading to the covered six-foot wide wooden flume that stretched two miles to the Upper Salmon Creek powerhouse figure powerfully in the story, as I expect they did in everyday life.

The view, the solitude, and the surroundings made a powerful impact on Varni. Years later and a thousand miles away, he decided to write a novel, a mystery story using real names, (except those of actual people), and set it in Juneau of that time.

A man who becomes a serial killer as other men discover his original murder makes a good story. So does the policeman (this reviewer would guess Varni was an officer in real life) who uncovers the truth.

Thereís only one problem; thereís no real mystery. This is a psychological thriller, but would have been more fun for the reader if the identity of the killer was veiled until the end. The excitement comes from the trial of the wrongly accused worker at the powerhouse, but since his involvement is based on a very hard to believe coincidence, itís not that exciting.

The idea to use actual photographs was brilliant. We see the 876 steps and the view, the living quarters up at the powerhouse, and even the flume. Very effective device.

Overall, a fun read at a reasonable price, particularly enjoyable if you lived in Juneau in the 1970s.

D. L.