Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Bear Witness, the first book in the cozy mystery series, Alaska Untamed. I enjoyed this story and recommend it to cozy mystery lovers. Scroll down for my review, a chance to win a kindle copy of Bear Witness, and a character guest post.
Bear Witness (Alaska Untamed Mystery #1) by Lark O. Jensen
Cozy Mystery, Set in Alaska
Published by Crooked Lane Books (May 10, 2022)
About the Book: Alaska tour boat guide Stacie Calder faces the deep freeze in this scenic cozy series debut perfect for fans of Paige Shelton.
No nine-to-five cubicle career will suit Stacie Calder—the naturalist much prefers working in the great outdoors. Specifically, the spacious and spectacular Alaskan wilderness, whose rugged charms she shares with sightseers on the top deck of the tour boat where she works. But one May afternoon, Stacie’s passengers see more than glittering glaciers, frolicking harbor seals, climbing bears and soaring seabirds…they also witness a man lying dead in the frigid Alaskan waters. And it seems likely that someone gave him a fatal push.
Stacie didn’t know the unfortunate victim, but he sure wanted to know a lot about her. He spent most of his final afternoon bombarding her with questions quite awkward to answer. And when he wasn’t in her hair, he was arguing incessantly with the boat’s beleaguered crew. Which makes for a suspect list about as long as the passenger manifest. Furthermore, as police helicopters relentlessly circle her boat in search of any clues, Stacie is shaken to find herself on that suspect list.
Before the tour boat reaches shore Stacie—accompanied by her beautiful blue-eyed husky, Sasha—must deduce just who sent the testy tourist tumbling into the turgid waters and have the authorities take custody. Because if she can’t, then the killer might aim a fatal ice-cold stare at Stacie.
4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Bear Witness is the first book in a new cozy mystery series starring protagonist, Stacie Calder, a naturalist. Staci loves the outdoors, so moved to Alaska to work in the great northern wilderness. She is employed by a tour boat company, where she shares her knowledge of the area and its animals with the tourists. On one of the tours she meets a man, Truit, who monopolizes her attention asking some very uncomfortable questions. When Staci finds out he used to be employed by her company, on her boat, she asks questions of her own, learning that he has plans to open a rival tour boat company. Staci keeps her eye out for him, but he seems to have disappeared before they return to the dock. When his body is found the next day, everyone one the boat is a suspect, even Staci.
This was an interesting story. I love the setting and profession of Staci, our protagonist, it is one I have not come across before. Having been on an Alaskan Cruise before, it was nice to revisit the area through this story. I know this is the first in the series, so I hope we will get to know more about the characters as the series continues. I always enjoy when animals play a role in the mystery, and Staci’s husky pup, Sasha is a large part of the story. As often happens our protagonist and detective begin to fall for one another, but I thought Stacie and Liam Amaruq, Alaska State Trooper had too quickly of a more intimate relationship, a bit unusual for a cozy mystery. Liam actually encourages Stacie to snoop and work with him to solve the case, which worked for me. There were plenty of suspects and Staci spends a lot of time asking questions and trying to put two and two together. Along the way she does alienate a few people, which added them to hers and my suspect list. I thought I knew who the culprit was about halfway through the book, but it wasn’t until the end where I found out the motive and that I was not correct. There was a bit of a dangerous showdown, but fortunately, Sasha was there to help save the day. I enjoyed this story and will watch for the next book in the Alaska Untamed Mysteries.
Character Guest Blog Post by Stacie Calder, protagonist of Bear Witness, the first Alaska Untamed Mystery, which supposedly was written by Linda O. Johnston under the pseudonym Lark O. Jensen: Wilder than Wildlife
Hmmm. I see by her website that Carla Loves to Read not only loves to read books but also sometimes reviews them. She might be reviewing BEAR WITNESS, a new book in which I’m featured. Not by design. It’s a murder mystery. I certainly hadn’t intended to solve a mystery. But I had little choice.
I’m Stacie Calder, an animal lover, not a detective. I’m a naturalist. I moved to Alaska a couple of years ago because I wanted to reside in a place filled with such wonderful wildlife, even make my living as a result of being so close. That’s why I found a job as a guide on a delightful tour boat that sails around the waters off Juneau, even into Tracy Arm and areas where there are glaciers, or what’s left of them. I brought my beloved husky Sasha with me. She’s my constant companion. She’s not wildlife, but a tame, sweet dog by my side.
And yes, there’s wildlife there, off the sides of the tour boat, that I can point out to the tourists who join us to see what they can. I’m always looking for more, but generally I can show them seals, sometimes mamas with babies on ice floes. There are often whales and dolphins out there too, kittiwakes and eagles in the sky, bears and wolves on the far-away banks.
And dead bodies in the water? Thanks heavens, no. Most of the time. But once… well, that’s why I’m in a mystery. There was a guy few of us liked who took tours on our boat, apparently to give us all a hard time as he researched what he could about what it was like to give this kind of tour. He indicated he hoped to start his own competing company. And he had a friend, or ally, or maybe an enemy who also came onboard on these tours too, also maybe conducting research to become a competitor.
Yes, the one guy died. He disappeared one day, and I kept looking for him unsuccessfully. Sasha’s skilled nose discovered him in the water the next day, dead at the shore of an inlet we’d visited the day he disappeared. Evidence indicated it hadn’t been an accident. But who killed him, and how?
Okay, I could get into the official investigation that was conducted but I won’t, other than to say I kind of liked the main officer assigned to sail with us and check things out: Officer Liam Amaruq of a special new arm of the Alaska State Troopers. He suspected me as well as others. He didn’t like that I took up snooping to try to clear myself and others associated with the tour boat whom I liked.
But he and I also wound up flirting.
Did the mystery get solved? Of course, or it wouldn’t have wound up getting documented in a cozy mystery. Am I going to tell you more?
Enter for a chance to win a Kindle Copy of Bear Witness (An Alaska Untamed Mystery) by Lark O. Jensen
About the Author: Lark O. Jensen is the pseudonym of Linda O. Johnston, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer. Lark has written Bear Witness, the first Alaska Untamed mystery for Crooked Lane. Linda has written the Barkery & Biscuits Mystery series and the Superstition Mysteries for Midnight Ink and the Pet Rescue Mysteries and Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. Linda also writes for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, and her stories often involve dogs.
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