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“The Season of Killing”

A Cozy Mystery

 

Lost in Alaska Series

Volume Five

 

 

 

Leigh Mayberry

© 2020

Leigh Mayberry

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law.

This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Products or brand names mentioned are trademarks of their respective holders or companies. The cover uses licensed images and are shown for illustrative purposes only. Any person(s) that may be depicted on the cover are simply models.

Edition v1.00 (2020.12.13)

Special thanks to the following volunteer readers who helped with proofreading: Kari Wellborn, RB, Big Kidd, Naomi W., and those who assisted but wished to be anonymous. Thank you so much for your support.

Table of Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Thirty

Chapter One

Kinguyakkii, the City of Northern Lights, was a lot like any other small city in the United States. In December, most Americans busied themselves with the hustle of commerce and commercialism. People worked extended hours to earn a little more money so they could buy their loved ones’ favorite items from online retailers instead of standing in line, shouldering through crowds to buy the same thing at a brick and mortar store; if supplies last.

The people of Kinguyakkii, Alaska, a North Slope Borough village of around three thousand year-around citizens, did the same things as most people in the lower forty-eight states. They worked hard; they struggled through traffic in the morning and rush-hour traffic homeward.

Only in a rural community thirty-three miles above the Arctic Circle, covering a spit along Kinguyakkii Sound, things were slightly different. Most people had no direct access to big-box department stores, except through the internet. The only way in or out of the North Slope city was either by air or sea, and that significantly changed the structure of traffic problems. The natural harbor of the Cape Krusenstern Mountains to the north and Bering Land Bridge National Preserve south created a breaker for the rough seas of the Bering Straits and the Chukchi Sea. Most people traveled by air when leaving or visiting the village.

The rugged and indigenous people, who called the Arctic Circle home, took what they got when it came to shopping choices in the village. But most people ordered their supplies and holiday gifts from online retailers. That’s where the traffic jams happened. Not on the few roads that wormed through the frosty village, but at the United States Post Office on Shore Avenue.

December in Alaska, most people knew to ship presents and receive early for the holidays. The traffic happened on foot, not while waiting on busy highways. The queues at the post office started before the community office building opened. Darkness eclipsed the northern region for over four months when the last sunset happened on October 8. It wouldn’t rise again until March 2. That meant everyone came and went in the dark, and somehow everything kept going.

Located in the largest building in Kinguyakkii, the post office took up the entire ground-level floor of the 16,400 square foot three-story building. The second and third floors had office space, local government, and private businesses. Mainly, the purpose of the building, maintained by the city and leased by the government, was for the use of handling large volumes of mail. Modern and efficient, most mails for the entire North Slope went through the Kinguyakkii hub. That meant the permanent residents from nine communities, including Kinguyakkii, received correspondences every day.

Cargo planes and commercial jets brought endless streams of mail into the city, while truckloads of boxes sat stacked outside the receiving area because there wasn’t any room left in the warehouse to house the pallets of arriving cartons and boxes.

It was a lot of work, a lot of frustration, and while it happened once a year and lasted about three months, ‘peak season’ for the post office meant extended hours. A lot of people who hurried through the lines were grumbling and angry for having to wait. Any other time of the year, they were pleasant. The post office was an unofficial hub of gossip and pleasantries between late October and after January; it was a place of confusion and griping.

For Barbara McKenzie, it was the first Christmas without Paul Coleman. She had to work long, unforgiving hours at the post office, surrounded by ungrateful people and had no one to share the holidays when she got a break. Paul was married when they had their liaison. She knew that. But Paul’s marriage to Shila Amak was a matter of convenience and presented ties to the community. They had a loveless marriage. Shila’s family had a history in the village and surrounding area. Paul had a thriving contractor business that allowed Shila to live in their second house with the kids in Hawaii. While Paul spent the summer season in Kinguyakkii with Barbara, Shila and the kids had a second life in the tropical heat.

Barbara loved the North Slope. She once met and married a man who came to Kinguyakkii and left with her heart. She stayed with his last name as a reminder

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