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Village of the Ghost Bears (Nathan Active Mystery #4)

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  224 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
“[Jones]'s created a richly populated universe you'll be sorry to leave”—People Magazine

“You can't fake the stuff Stan Jones pulls off in Village of the Ghost Bears . . . A writer of muscular words and stark images, Jones sets up his scenes like film shots. . . . This kind of writing makes for strong reading, especially with a sturdy murder plot to give it structure.”—New
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published December 1st 2009 by Soho Crime (first published January 1st 2009)
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Jan 26, 2010 Anna rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I hate to give up on books, but I gave up on this one two thirds of the way through. On the plus side, it is an intriguing glimpse of Alaskan Inuit life. On the other hand, it falls into the whodunnit trap of introducing a couple of dozen characters to muddy the trail and losing track of the story line. I kept thinking, "Oh, wait, who was this character?"
Mal Warwick
Feb 21, 2011 Mal Warwick rated it really liked it
If you’ve never traveled to Alaska, you’ll feel you’ve been there anyway once you pick up the Stan Jones habit, as I have.

Jones, Anchorage-born and -bred, is the author of four mystery stories featuring Alaska State Trooper Nathan Active. The two I’ve read — his first (White Sky, Black Ice, and his fourth, Village of the Ghost Bears) — are both set in the predominantly Eskimo village of Chukchi on the Northwest Coast, far from the vast state’s best-known towns, Anchorage, Juneau, and Fairbanks,
Mar 23, 2010 Renee rated it liked it
I’m trying to be better at just enjoying the stories and not getting so distracted by mediocre writing. It can be a challenge, especially when a an author issues such platitudes as, “ … wishing real life were more like police work. In police work, you investigated a case and closed it. Or, if you couldn’t close it, it cooled off and you forgot about it eventually. But in life, no issue could ever be completely closed, or completely forgotten. One way or another, it would come up again and again. ...more
Nov 17, 2010 Nikki rated it really liked it
I had read the first two of Jones's Nathan Active mysteries a few years ago and then he apparently had some trouble getting the next one published. So when I saw this one, I didn't realize I'd missed one book in between. Apparently a lot has happened in Trooper Active's personal life and if that took place in book 3, I kind of know the ending now. Oh well.

I found this book a bit slow-moving at first, but it's very possible that was just me. About halfway through things sped up and it became a sa
Jul 23, 2013 Bethany rated it really liked it
So this is a mystery in a series of mysteries by the same author. It wasn't the first one, but it didn't matter. I really enjoyed the book, not because I thought it was a great mystery or the best plot line I'd ever read, but because it was about a place with a lot of character and culture I was discovering while reading it. Alaska, the weather, the personality and characters, a little bit of language.

I really appreciate when people write about WHAT THEY KNOW. I loved the book for this reason, a
Nov 12, 2013 Linnae rated it liked it
Set in rural Alaska. State Trooper Nathan Active has his work cut out for him: an arsonist has set fire to the village gym, killing 8 people. As he follows the leads, it becomes apparent that the dead hunter he found a few weeks before also has ties to the case, as do many people in the village.

Jones really has an ear for village talk and life. Just reading this brought back memories of growing up in the Bush. I enjoyed the mystery and didn't guess the ending. Characters had some depth. Overall
Oct 27, 2011 Susan rated it liked it
Just starting a camping trip at a remote lake, Alaska state trooper Nathan Active and Grace, the woman he loves, come upon a body in a creek. Back home in the village of Chukchi, the recreation center is set on fire, claiming eight victims, including the town's police chief. The setting of the book, often described quite vividly from a plane, is fascinating. It is also encouraging that the author is able to portray in Nathan a very human character who develops depth and complexity from book to b ...more
This rating is a bit low. I'd say the book was a 3.5 star book. The story was engrossing enough. The problem was that the book was the fourth in a series and there were frequent references to previous events that weren't noted with enough detail for the story to stand on its own.

With that said, the setting is Alaska where Trooper Nathan Active, a state trooper, is involved in investigating a fire in the Chukchi Rec Center which killed 8 people. The clues take some twists and turns and has us tra
Feb 12, 2016 Ed rated it really liked it
#4 in the Nathan Active series. An atmospheric novel with a great sense of place. I love reading about the snow covered Alaskan terrain from a warm bed.

Nathan Active series - While on a camping trip to a remote lake, Nathan, an Inupiaq Alaska state trooper, and Grace, the woman he loves, come upon a body in a creek, its face eaten by pike. Arson soon follows murder. Back home in the village of Chukchi, the recreation center goes up in a blaze, claiming eight victims, including the town's police
Jul 01, 2011 Mie rated it it was ok
I found this book on the new arrival shelf at the library and thought it sounded as something I would enjoy reading. I didn't know that this was the 4th book of the Nathan Active Mystery's but I din't have difficulties getting into the book so I dont think I missed anything, and I would say that each book can be read alone and not in sequence. The book gave an intriguing glimse of Alascan Inuit life and gave a good describtion of the harch Alascan nature. I can only give 2 stars because the myst ...more
Amy Paget
Jun 13, 2015 Amy Paget rated it liked it
Fourth in the Nathan Active series...I will be back tracking to read this full series. It's set in Alaska and having lived and worked in Northern Alberta, I can attest the reality of Stan Jones' setting. In addition to a well-crafted plot featuring a case of arson and mysterious plane crashes, the clash of cultures plays a significant role in this novel and the series of novels. Recommended. Find out more at
Aug 28, 2015 Edna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finished
That was an exiting book from Alaska. An Inupiat Alaska Officer doing police work in the Northern part of Alaska. Sounds beautiful but deadly. Learned a lot from this book. I had heard of Polar Bears living in towns, as they are running out of food and floes to hang out on.
I recommend this book not only for the Mysteries BUT for the Culture that is written in this book. We just do NOT really know what and why people live there. This book will help you understand.
Didn't get far into it. When you're attracted to a book because of its setting and plotline--mystery in native Alaskan society--and the opening pages are all about a (white) couple trying to have sex but not being able to because the chick was raped by her father, it doesn't make a good impression.
Feb 17, 2014 Debbie rated it liked it
There was much about "Village of the Ghost Bears" that was fascinating and that made for a compelling read. The resolution of the mystery was rather hazy and felt incomplete, do I didn't feel like the story was wrapped up. I liked it enough to try another book by the author, but I'm not sure id recommend it. We will see....
Catherine Woodman
I very much like this author--both as a story teller and Nathan Active, the trooper. Cowboy, a bush pilot, is a great co-character for this book--they track down the killer and they haul out the bodies,a nd they survive. I love the descriptions of small Alaska native villages--of which I have only been to a few, but these desriptions ring true. Recommended.
Apr 06, 2014 Jaci rated it liked it
State Trooper Nathan Active solves the crime by not "overthinking." The details of Alaskan life and Inupiat culture were great, the plot not so much. Always believe the crazy character that isn't making sense. This is number 4 in the series.
Aug 24, 2010 Anna rated it really liked it
This continued/finished off the non-case-related story line that I felt mixed about in the last book--again, maybe believable but something didn't sit right. However, love the setting so much that it outweighs this and I'm only sorry there aren't more!
Jan 14, 2011 Katherine rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
"'Yeah, but what human organization isn't at least twenty percent screwed up?' Carnaby said" (62).
"It didn't make a lot of sense, but when had revenge and logic every paddled the same kayak?" (82).

Having read this book, I do not believe I shall delve into the rest of the series.
Lisa Currier
Apr 28, 2010 Lisa Currier rated it really liked it
I enjoy these books, even though #3 is still my favorite. The story did get a little confused with so many suspects, but the parts dealing with Nathan and his personal life were good. The author does a great job of describing Inupiat life and how nathan tries to adapt.
Apr 22, 2010 Jeanne rated it it was ok
I don't know how I started with book 3 in the series, but I did. Maybe that's why I didn't care so much for this book. I felt I was missing something. At least it contains a glossary for the Eskimo words.
Jones would benefit from reading Stabenow or Krueger on how to create settings with local flavor and cultural verisimilitude. Putting an Inupiaq glossary at the front of a book, while helpful, does not a culture capture.
Jun 05, 2010 Janet rated it really liked it
The William Kent Krueger of Alaska. He fits in lots of detail about life in rugged frontier areas, while telling a great mystery not solved until the final pages.
Sep 18, 2010 Robin marked it as to-read
Judging from the first chapter, this appears to be a very readable mystery series with a great sense of location (Alaska).
Jun 09, 2010 Sharon rated it really liked it
A difficult book to finish, but filled with interesting insights into the culture of the area and a good mystery as well.
Apr 28, 2014 Grey853 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
I enjoyed parts of this book, those that were about Nathan and his personal life. The actual mystery, however, was a big muddle of characters and it was difficult to follow.
May 21, 2014 Michelle rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
4th in the Nathan Active Mystery series, set in and around Kotzebue, Alaska. I really enjoyed this one. Not sure if the author will produce others in this series, but I'll read them if he does!
Jan 23, 2010 Gary rated it liked it
Interestingwell written snapshot of life where native traditions and modern police work clash. I found the "closed society" attitude of the local tribes frustrating.
Jun 20, 2011 Joan rated it really liked it
For those people who like C.J. Box you will like this too.
It takes place in Alaska and is a murder mystery.
John Hanscom
Apr 28, 2012 John Hanscom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gosh, I love these books. I know many, many Inpiauq ["Eskimo"], and these books sound right, feel right, and tell their story as well as being good mysteries.
Life and work of half Inupiat Alaska State Trooper in Northwest Alaska, including a good portion in Barrow. Good series in a very cold climate.
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Stan Jones is a writer of mystery and science fiction novels, and is co-author of a non-fiction oral history book.

He has written four books in the Nathan Active mystery series. He is also the co-author (with Sharon Bushell) of The Spill: An oral history of the Exxon Valdez disaster, scheduled for publication in March 2009.

He was born in Anchorage, Alaska, where he lives today, and all of his books
More about Stan Jones...

Other Books in the Series

Nathan Active Mystery (5 books)
  • White Sky, Black Ice (Nathan Active Mystery, #1)
  • Shaman Pass (Nathan Active Mystery, #2)
  • Frozen Sun (Nathan Active Mystery, #3)
  • Tundra Kill (Nathan Active Mystery #5)

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