Play with Fire by Dana Stabenow

Berkley (first), 1995

Spring has come to Alaska, and new growth is springing up where the land has been burned over by a forest fire. Kate Shugak is one of many Alaskans picking the bumper crop of mushrooms that buyers from all over the lower 48 states are flying in to purchase. It’s surprising, and sometimes appalling, where fungi will grow; as she picks, Kate uncovers a corpse. The mystery Stabenow tells is a compelling one: there are no missing persons reports to account for the body, and no reasonable way to explain that the dead man apparently died running, barefoot and naked. On another level, Stabenow has retold a story which people have wrestled with over the ages: Once there was a stern and righteous father with a loving son who became a teacher among the father’s followers. And the son appeared to the followers as one who violated the father’s teachings, and they killed him in a cruel way. And when the son was dying he called out in agony, because his father had forsaken him. And then he died. (Jeanne M Jacobson)

Originally published in Issue # 136 – March/April 1995

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