From Ice to Ashes

An excerpt from

Jessica Simon’s New Book

Chapter One

… Under the skiff of snow that blew across the parking lot, a row of footprints trailed from Fanger’s truck – a pile of rust so old it said Datsun on the tailgate – to a line of nearby trees. He opened the door and empties clattered around his feet. “Das gibt’s doch nicht! I don’t believe this.” He put his hand over his nose.

“What?” Edwin and Jake hurried over. The stench of strong beer and stale cigarettes assaulted them from the cab.

“While we were inside working on Donjek’s case, some idiot hosted a party in my truck.” He fired the cans into the box of the pickup.

From the passenger side, Jake dumped the ashtray into a coffee-rimmed paper cup. “At least they didn’t set it on fire like they did to Joes Masters’ truck last week.” He closed the door and tossed the garbage. “When the weather warms up, you can lock your truck again without being afraid it’ll freeze permanently shut.”

Fanger got behind the wheel. “It’s exactly this kind of nuisance crime – vandalism, stealing cares, ripping off the neighbours – that makes people think circle sentencing is a joke.”

“Well it sure doesn’t make our job easier,” Jake said. The brakes and the gas were crusted in slush. Fanger pumped them loose, turned on the ignition, and let the starter whine to life. When the motor stopped sputtering, he left it running and walked back to the band hall.

“Fifteen or more cases a week in a place the size of Dawson is too many,” Fanger said. “I mean, there are only a thousand people living here. It’s obvious jail hasn’t helped them.”

Jake and Edwin quick-stepped to keep up with Fanger’s long stride. “Keep Donny out of jail and we can prove diversion works,” said Jake.

Fanger halted.

Edwin neared. “You are a good friend,” he said. “I am not young. You will teach Donny something I can’t.” He took Fanger’s hand in his own, which was as worked and worn as the hides he tanned. The elder’s eyes were misted, but it could have been the winter dryness.

Chapter Nine

Outside, crystal stars crackled in space. Satellites sashayed through the violet-green fold of the aurora’s skirt, and faded into a sky as black as the phone display in Fanger’s hand, dead. He clamped the dud in its case and trudged back to the tent.

The cold front nipped at his nose and cheeks and he stocked up on wood in anticipation of burning a day’s worth in one night if the temperature kept dropping. He expected Donjek to take the bundle from him once inside, but the shelter was empty and their dishes gone. Fanger dumped his armload, and noticed that Ahmed’s wool and fleece clothes no longer hung over the heat. He pulled on his headlamp and returned outdoors.

The firepit blazed beside their snowmobiles, where a silhouette, bent over Ahmed’s pulk, pawed through the gaping duffel. Fanger pointed his beam down and edged closer, unnoticed, his grinding footfalls muffled by the noisy search being conducted ahead. Directly behind the searcher he flicked his lamp over the scene, lifted Donjek by his shoulders to his full height, and patted him down.

“Get a good haul?” He wheeled Donjek, stunned, to face him, furious.

“Wait! Wait! It’s not what it looks like.” The youth steadied himself.

“Convince me you not rifling through Ahmed’s stuff. You’re practically wearing that duffel.”

Donjek held up his hands, keeping Fanger at arm’s length, but not with the arrogant defensiveness Fanger expected. “I finished writing and was going to do the dishes. Then I checked Ahmed’s clothes and they were dry so I wanted to put them away.” His frantic gestures and tumbling details left him panting.

“So what were you doing in the bottom of his gear?” Fanger checked his temper but not his skepticism.

“Look at this.” Donjek pulled a brick-sized case up by its strap. “It’s full of connectors.” He opened it. “And this.” He spread back the sack, revealing orange sticks with the words “Danger Explosive Strong Oxidizer” imprinted on each. “There are a lot of them.”

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