SUNDOWN ON TOP OF THE WORLD by R. E. Donald

Hunter Rayne is a long distance trucker, changing careers after burning out as a Canadian Mountie. He gets talked into a delivery waaaaaay the fadidle up north in Alaska, somewhere near Fairbanks. He works out of Vancouver, BC, and delivers routinely to California and northern parts of Canada. This is set in 1997, so don’t expect a whole lot of fancy 2016 tech. He is not thrilled with the delivery job. The Alaska Highway was hard on trucks and on drivers. (This was 20 years ago. Perhaps it is different now. What do I know? I live in Mexico.)

He gets ready to roll, meets up with a friend, Sorry Sorenson, a biker he had busted 10 years prior, and who got his act together enough to get married and have a couple of kids, but could never hold down a job. His wife tossed him, and the two decide Sorry will ride with Hunter to help spell the driving.

In the tiny town of Eagle,  we meet Betty, in her sixties, a child of the bush, a survivor, a recluse and loner, and her granddaughter Goldie, whom she has raised on her own out in the bush since the child was born. They have moved to Eagle so Goldie could go to school. Neither of them have birth certificates, or documents of any kind. They live way out of town, and Betty has an ancient beater truck, which she has never registered, and neither she nor her granddaughter have a driver’s license. Goldie is getting the itch to leave and see the wide world. She has never been anywhere, although Fairbanks is only a few hours away.

We have a flashback story to when Hunter was a young Mountie and he and his partner are called to a remote cabin to find it a mass of blood, but no body. The owner of the cabin and the young woman he was shacked up with had disappeared. Hunter had seen the young woman and was a little attracted to her in the nearby town, and was concerned about her. The mystery was never solved and remains an open cold case.

The back story on Hunter is that he was a workaholic, in love with his job. For this, his wife finally had enough and divorced him. He partner, meanwhile, hit a slough of depression and killed himself. The wife called Hunter, he went and rearranged the scene to make it look like a gun cleaning accident, fell out of love with the job, left the Mounties and started long distance driving, which he really liked. He liked the solitude and the changing scenery.

So what we basically have in this long book is a story about people — their stories — and there are many characters, all with a story –all intertwined in an unforced way, the whole edifice built on a mystery that had happened twenty years prior. Like I said, it was long, but as I mused on it, I can’t really think what could profitably be cut, what could be eliminated without doing an injustice to any of the various characters or the feel and flow of the book.

If you like mysteries, the mystery is not bad, but be aware it is the weakest element of the book. If you like stories about people, especially about people in the bush and remoteness of the Yukon and Alaska, you will definitely like this for the people element. I enjoyed it all — the mystery, about which we readers cared not a jot, and the characters, about whom we readers cared a great deal.

Thumbs up!

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One comment on “SUNDOWN ON TOP OF THE WORLD by R. E. Donald

  1. […] second in the Hunter Rayne Highway mystery series.  I read the 4th one first, and talked about it here, Sundown on Top of the World.   I may actually get to read the other two in the series as […]

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