Guest Blog Post, by Linda O. Johnston, who wrote Bear Witness, the first Alaska Untamed Mystery, under the pseudonym Lark O. Jensen:
Whodunnits and Wildlife
What do writers who love animals, and also love to read and write cozy mysteries, do for fun?
Well, at least some of them, like me, write cozy mysteries that contain animals! Are you surprised? 😊
That has been the case with all the various cozy mystery series I’ve written, from the Kendra Ballantyne Mysteries to the Pet Rescue Mysteries, the Barkery and Biscuits Mysteries, and even the Superstition Mysteries. They all contain dogs, my favorite animals.
And now? More animals, including wildlife! My new book BEAR WITNESS is an Alaska Untamed mystery, the first in a series. Does it contain a dog? Of course! It’s Sasha, a husky, whose name means “defender,” and in addition to being a wonderful companion, that’s what Sasha does: defend people.
Sasha belongs to Stacie Calder, the series protagonist. Stacie is a naturalist, by education and vocation, and because of her love of animals. Right now, she lives in Alaska and provides tours during the warmest seasons on a tour boat owned by a family with an entire fleet of tour boats. Yes, she points out animals, some wonderful wildlife, while Sasha comes along with her
Stacie loves to show tourists the seal mamas and babies on ice floes in the waterways where they travel, as well as birds in the sky and wolves and bears along the shore. She likes the people she works with, too, including the captain and assistant captain of her boat and the staff in addition to herself, as well as most of the tourists she helps to watch all those wonderful animals.
You note I said most of the tourists. Some who take sightseeing trips with them aren’t particularly nice, especially a few who are snooping and trying to learn all they can about running that kind of tour boat, since they want to buy their own and go into competition. They even talk about it, to each other, and to those who work on the tour boat.
Not exactly a good way to make friends onboard, at least not with those who are in charge.
And one of those passengers who says he wants to become a competitor winds up dead. He disappears one day, and his body is found in the water when they take the same journey the next day. Who finds him? Sasha, with her wonderful sense of scent, discovers him off the side of the boat, along the shore.
It turns out he was murdered.
As I said, Stacie is a naturalist and doesn’t consider herself any kind of detective. But when one of her favorite people, the captain of her tour boat, winds up being considered the main suspect, she has to try to find the answer. There are other suspects too. Stacie herself even argued with the murder victim, so to some extent she has to investigate to protect herself.
She’s not the only one investigating, of course. Among other authorities, Officer Liam Amaruq of a new wing of the Alaska State Troopers winds up officially looking into it. Stacie likes Liam. They even start developing a bit of a relationship, although he doesn’t really want her snooping.
Yes, it’s a cozy mystery.
I got the idea of this kind of mystery series while I was on an Alaskan cruise a few years ago. No, my dogs weren’t with me, but I took one of those boat tours in the Juneau area and was highly impressed with the wonderful wildlife pointed out by the tour guides on that boat. Seals and whales and porpoises in the water, various birds in the air, and bears and wolves on the shoreline landscape.
My animal-lover writer mind got into business and started brainstorming about how I could use what I saw in a story, even a series.
The Alaska Untamed Mysteries are the result!
By the way, I also write Harlequin Romantic Suspense novels, and most of them also contain—what else?—dogs.
Bear Witness (An Alaska Untamed Mystery)
by Lark O. Jensen
About Bear Witness
Bear Witness (An Alaska Untamed Mystery)
1st in Series
Setting – Alaska
Crooked Lane Books (May 10, 2022)
Hardcover : 320 pages
ISBN-10 : 1643858963
ISBN-13 : 978-1643858968
Digital ASIN : B09CD3RWVD
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.
About Lark O. Jensen
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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