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

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  171 ratings  ·  37 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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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
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,
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
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
Amy Paget
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
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....
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.
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!
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
"'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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Interestingwell written snapshot of life where native traditions and modern police work clash. I found the "closed society" attitude of the local tribes frustrating.
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.
John Hanscom
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.
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).
A difficult book to finish, but filled with interesting insights into the culture of the area and a good mystery as well.
For those people who like C.J. Box you will like this too.
It takes place in Alaska and is a murder mystery.
Read it for the setting in an Alaskan village, but the mystery wasn't that mysterious.
Mason Casper
I loved this book. Beautiful description of Alaska and supine is nerving.
Not as good as the others in the series but I love the series.
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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 (4 books)
  • White Sky, Black Ice (Nathan Active Mystery, #1)
  • Shaman Pass (Nathan Active Mystery, #2)
  • Frozen Sun (Nathan Active Mystery, #3)
White Sky, Black Ice (Nathan Active Mystery, #1) Shaman Pass (Nathan Active Mystery, #2) Frozen Sun (Nathan Active Mystery, #3) Jones' Complete Barguide Lake Powell and Its 96 Canyons Boating and Exploring Map

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