Cold Case Affair
by Loreth Anne White
(SRS #1582, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-27652-3
Muirinn O'Donnell fled her very small Alaskan hometown when she was 17. Looking for "the world outside" she headed to California. The cost was high as her first love Jett Rutledge not only refused to leave with her but had, in a characteristically teenage pique, warned her that if she left, he never wanted to see her again.  So she complied, never returning to even visit the grandfather who had reared her.

Shortly after arriving in California, Muirinn discovered she was pregnant and placed her baby up for adoption, telling only her grandfather, not Jett the father. She went on to become a successful journalist and was in remotest New Guinea when her grandfather died eleven years later. It is more than two weeks after the services before she received news of his demise.

Muirinn is pregnant again, this time by a sperm donor. The reader meets her as she is returning to her hometown to take possession of the home and business her grandfather has left her. The first person she sees upon landing is Jett as he is saying goodbye to his son leaving for camp. Muirinn had been hurt when she discovered that within a year of her leaving Alaska Jett had married and had a son.

Muirinn is shocked to learn that her grandfather, with a heart condition, was found at the bottom of one of the deep levels of a nearby mine. This mine had been the cause of her father's death. He was killed along with other miners in an explosion there when she was very young. The circumstances were always suspicious because her father had been one of several who had crossed the union picket line during a strike. The perpetrator of the explosion has never been discovered.

Her grandfather was the publisher of the town paper and had an extremely thick file of the incident having always been preoccupied with the investigation. The first night home someone apparently breaks into Muirinn's attic while she is asleep. Noticing the light, Jett who passes there on his way home, stops to investigate. So they meet again for the first time after all those years.

The romantic attraction is still there as Muirinn is too painfully aware. She believes him to still be married and places all the distance she can between them as through the ensuing days she finds the newspaper office had been broken into as well. Not believing her grandfather would have voluntarily gone into that mine shaft by himself, she initiates her own investigation putting herself at risk. Jett discovering that, reluctantly knows he must protect her. But he has secrets of his own, and the author must work through the respective baggage of Muirinn and Jett within the framework of reopening the old investigation.

White's characters are well drawn with sufficient depth to realistically overcome their teenage personalities. The story is more about their relationship, with the suspense angle looming only in the background. The plot is thinly constructed and ties itself up a little too neatly in the end, but the creative use of the Alaskan backdrop swings the balance, making this an enjoyable read.

--Thea Davis

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