BearCat Press: 12/1/2013
ebook, 334 pages
Nick Rezkel lost his PI license in a case that went sideways. Turned out catching the killer wasn't enough. Now he's on the Alaska Pipeline, working seven tens out in the minus 70 wind chill. Yet, there are compensations. Nick finds a new girlfriend with a quick tongue and a killer body. Life feels sweet despite his boss' threats to fire him. Then, everything gets serious. He finds a dead man, a heap of cocaine dissolving in his pooled blood. State troopers are convinced Nick stabbed the guy. Now, it's up to him to escape and clear his name.
Death Below Zero by Richard Anderson is a recommended detective novel for those who don't mind the drugs and moral lassitude.
Nick Rezkel is a washed-up PI who is currently working on the pipeline in Prudhoe, Alaska in the 1970's. The construction camps "had constant cocaine with plenty more down along the pipeline. The construction camps were hard and strange places, with a lot of cash floating around and Arctic bozos going nuts in the corners." (Location 114) Nick has a smart mouth, but as the rookie on his crew he worked hard in the subzero temperatures. Then Nick manages to almost get killed, meet a girl, suspect defective materials, find a dead body, get accused of murder, get fired, and that is just the start of Nick's problems. He needs to find a way to clear his name or he's going to be the one to take the fall.
Anderson does a nice job sending Nick through several accusations, twists and turns as he's trying to save his own skin while solving the case. He also does a great job with descriptions. For example: "The North Slope stretched across a flat plain from the polar icecap eighty miles south to the Brooks Range. We were getting a dozen hours of daylight, only at that latitude the sun barely got above the horizon, shining no brighter than a full moon through the thick white haze of ice fog. Cold, dense air supported the zillions of tiny ice crystals stripped off the ground by the wind. When you looked at the sun the ice crystals blowing by glinted like sparks thrown off a huge grinder into the whiteness. The ice fog thickness cut visibility down to fifty yards. Beyond that, the ice fog merged with the ground into an obscure, impenetrable white." (Location 233)
My problem with Death Below Zero is with Nick, the main character. This is problematic in a novel written in the first person. I didn't like Nick from the start when he was all about the cocaine and being a smart alec. It just went downhill from there and I grew to like him less and less with each page. It made rating this book difficult. It's not a bad who-done-it, but my dislike of Nick made me almost hope he would fail. And... I can honestly say there wasn't one character I liked in the book.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of BearCat Press via Netgalley for review purposes