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Nathan Active Mysteries Books In Order

Publication Order of Nathan Active Mysteries Books

White Sky, Black Ice (1999) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Shaman Pass (2003) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Frozen Sun (2008) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Village of the Ghost Bears (2009) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Tundra Kill (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

The Nathan Active Mysteries is a series of novels by Stan Jones, an American author of science fiction and mystery books. The first and most popular novel of the series is the aptly named, White Sky Black Ice published in 1999. Not the most prolific of writers, Jones has gone on to write four more titles in the series by 2016. The mystery series is set in an Alaskan Inuit community, which happens to have an inordinate number of murder mysteries. Jones paints an Alaska culture in the throes of change as embodied by Nathan Active a state trooper and detective. Over the series, the protagonist is involved in trying to unrvel a series of murders in his town of Chukchi. His job is made even harder by the fact that he has practically no knowledge of the indigenous culture of the Inuit, though he is a born Inuit. Stan Jones has written an excellent novel that portrays the clash of cultures between the indigenous people and the white settlers of Alaska. Unlike other novels that try to analyze the clash from the perspective of say a white man working in and indigenous community, Jones takes an innovative approach in presenting the story from the perspective of a native. The unique nature of the protagonist in being pure Inuit yet never having full acceptance into the community because of his lack of knowledge of the culture makes for some interesting perspectives.

Nathan Active was born to an indigenous Inuit Eskimo family but was soon after adopted, and has lived most of his life with a white family. The series opens with Active having come back to his native Inuit community to work as a detective and state trooper. Even as he is a native Inuit, he does not find acceptance given that the locals consider him half-white, though he does not have white blood. The fact that he was brought up by white schoolteachers in Anchorage and hence has very little knowledge of their traditions, practically makes him an outsider. While he is a very good detective, he finds that he is fighting for acceptance into the community and trying to do his job to the best of his ability. A character that can be best described as full of integrity and with undoubtable moral character, driven by a desire for truth, and a sense of justice, trying to find clues and solve mysteries among the indigenous Inuit is one of his biggest challenges. However, Nathan Active develops a complex balance between respecting local customs and doing his job that by the end of the series, he becomes an almost different man. He manages to adapt to not only the fierce climate and hostile Inuit, but also has a better understanding of their customs, which helps him to do his job better.

Geography and culture are very important parts of the Nathan Active Mystery series of novels. As a native Alaskan, Stan Jones has a very good understanding of cycles of life brought about by Geography, or how social interaction among Alaskans is determined by culture. While the series of novels is deemed a detective mystery series, the series is more concerned with the cultural aspects of life, even if the murders are particularly gruesome. A former journalist Jones skillfully highlights the desolation and beauty of the treeless landscape, and how the people have learned to survive it. The compelling plots and storylines and the masterful depiction of issues of racial identity have earned the series many plaudits over the years. Publishers Weekly asserted that the novels are an honest showcase of Alaska’s mixed ethnic tradition, while the New York Times Book Review said there is no series better at showing the ugly side of Alaska. Reading through the series gets the reader an understanding of a world in flux, in which young children want to play Pokemon and snowmobiles are replacing do sleds.

The popular first novel in the Nathan Active series, White Sky Black Ice introduces us to Nathan Active, an Alaskan State Trooper and detective. Given away for adoption while still very young he was brought up by white parents. With little knowledge of his Inuit culture, he is torn between the white and indigenous cultures. Having always resented his mother for giving him away, his assignment to Chukchi where his mother still lives proves to be a trying time. With the opening of a copper mine in the village, liquor related offenses and domestic violence have declined as more people now have jobs. But when two men turn up dead in the span of a week, each with a very similar gunshot wound, Active believes something is afoot. The locals believe that these are nothing more than suicides given that one of the men was member of a family they believe has a curse. But despite a history of suicides in Chukchi, Nathan finds it peculiar that two men would take their lives by shooting themselves in the throat. While the suspense could at best be described as modest, the exotic setting makes for some interesting reading. Jones is a master at writing about the mundane life of the Inuit, while tackling important themes such as the toll of alcoholism in their communities.

The second novel in the Nathan Active series is the 2003 published title, Shaman Pass. Set in rural Alaska, Nathan Active is tasked with finding a sacred Inuit mummy that has been stolen. Some well-meaning people at the Smithsonian Institute has preserved the body of an ancient Inuit hero, only to have it stolen by natives who want to perform the last funeral rites on it. The story takes a nasty turn when a tribal elder turns up dead, apparently killed by a harpoon from the mummy, while out fishing in a remote region. Active investigation leads him to a group of Inuit suspects who live in squalid igloos in isolated whaling and hunting camps, each with an interesting narrative. Nathan is soon at the center of a struggle between the legacy of murdered social reformer and prophet Natchiq, and the age old venerated power of the pagan witch doctors known as Shamans.

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