In this novel, a teenage girl’s search for her mother leads to a criminal underworld and an unexpected danger.
Brooklyn is a 16-year-old girl growing up in the small community of Chatham, Alaska. Raised by her single mother, Flo Whiting, a waitress, the teen learned that her father disappeared before her birth. All she knows about her dad is that his first name is Vince and he is a full-blood Tlingit. One afternoon, Brooklyn returns home to find her mother missing and Flo’s bedroom in disarray. Flo leaves a note for Brooklyn assuring her she is safe, but the teen believes this is out of character for her mother. Brooklyn embarks on an investigation into Flo’s disappearance with the help of a local resident named Bingo Bob and discovers that her mother is helping Vince elude Johnny Kwan, his contact in a scheme to illegally sell otter pelts. While preparing a shipment for Kwan in a place called the Grotto, Vince and his partners were infected with rabies carried by bats and otters in the area. Brooklyn’s search soon becomes a race as Kwan closes in on Vince and Flo and as additional cases of rabies appear in the community. This latest novel from Cooper is a fast-paced mystery that skillfully combines a nuanced coming-of-age story with a tense crime thriller. The narrative is anchored by Brooklyn, a teen who feels like an outsider in her community because she is half-White and half-Tlingit. She gains a new appreciation for the close-knit community of Chatham and forms an unexpected alliance with Tony Jackson, a classmate who initially taunts her at the local community center. The subplot involving Vince is similarly well developed as he navigates staying one step ahead of Kwan while battling rabies. The author’s prose is confident and assured as the story’s tension builds, particularly in a harrowing scene in which tourists Jim and Donna encounter rabid otters. Cooper’s tale may appeal to fans of Sue Henry and Dana Stabenow.
A satisfying mystery with a strong protagonist.