Cold Storage, Alaska is a quirky novel that alternates between humor, violence, and pathos. I liked it!
When the novel begins, Clive is being released from a California prison after serving seven years for dealing drugs. He swears to himself that he’s going to go kind of straight, but first he has to stop by his crime boss’s (Jake) warehouse, where he picks up money, evidence against Jake, and a big, frightening dog. Then he heads to Alaska.
Clive’s mother, Annabelle, and brother Miles are waiting for Clive back in Cold Storage (it’s the name of a town). Miles is an Army veteran and runs the town clinic and Annabelle is hoping to see her oldest son again before she succumbs to cancer.
The small town was once thriving due to the frozen fish industry but has fallen on hard times. It reminded me of the little town in the TV series Northern Exposure. And similar to Northern Exposure, the town is populated by eccentric characters, including a guy who wants to kayak to Washington to see the Dalai Lama and raise money to free Tibet; a successful native American jewelry maker who lives in Cold Storage to “study white people” for a book he’s writing; and Weasel, who has quite a green thumb when it comes to growing marijuana.
Clive quickly carves out his place in the town, but trouble follows him. A state trooper is sniffing around, hoping to catch Clive doing something wrong. And then Jake shows up…
The novel explores many different themes and it’s hard to peg to one genre. The author says he likes slapstick comedy, and there is some of that. But there are also very serious topics like aging, death, relationship struggles, and family loyalty. The shift from humor to serious kept me a little off-balance, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
I liked Cold Storage, Alaska because of its quirky, likable characters, small town flair, humor, and brotherly love. It’s part of a series and I’m looking forward to reading the next one.
How about you? What’s the last good quirky novel you read?