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The Following Sea
by Marcel Jolley
Joseph Merickel asks for little—as chief of police in Skagway, Alaska, he simply wants things in order. When a lifelong friend is found dead and her boyfriend goes missing, Merickel must trade this quiet predictable existence for the very aspects of his profession he had hoped to avoid by returning home to rural Southeast Alaska. The investigation will drag him through this landlocked region, where a stretch of heavy October rain makes flight hard and pursuit harder. Despite familiar terrain and old acquaintances, the lawman can’t help but feel himself adrift in a territory of personal histories that until now Joseph Merickel thought he knew as well as his own.
"Drawn with taut, lyrical prose reminiscent of Jim Harrison's work, Marcel Jolley's characters are as tough as the harsh Alaskan landscape from which they are cut--its craggy shorelines, muddy washouts, and overgrown logging roads beneath foreboding gunmetal skies. Neither a long short story nor a clipped novel, The Following Sea masters the form of the novella with a grace that is evocative and instantly memorable."
—Patrick Michael Finn
"A powerful and authentic story of small town passions, bush pilots, and Southeast Alaska.  Well done."
—Joe Upton
About the Author
Marcel Jolley was born in Skagway, Alaska, and now lives in Camas, Washington, with his wife and son. He is the author of the story collections Neither Here Nor There (Black Lawrence Press, 2007), which won the inaugural St. Lawrence Book Award, and Priors (Black Lawrence Press, 2012).
The previous spring Joseph Merickel tracked a dead moose for almost two days. Seven months later people still debated how the animal met her end. Some said a state ferry hit her when she was swimming, while others speculated she was poached on shore from a passing fishing boat but fell in somewhere unrecoverable. Whatever her origin, the waterlogged cow rode the tides to Skagway’s harbor where she surprised an underwater welder down for his first dive of the day working on the new railroad dock. After the shock wore off, the welder and his partner dragged the moose out with a come-along and deposited her in a friend’s driveway before breakfast. In the flat grey of that March morning this appeared a great practical joke, and the friend no sooner discovered the moose than perpetuated the prank on a neighbor.
Word eventually reached Chief of Police Merickel, who recognized the caper to be if not illegal at least in bad taste. The citizenry’s thawing sense of humor kept the moose agile, but Merickel cornered her the next afternoon on the school superintendent’s lawn, where deceased animals and juvenile antics alike ground to a halt. No charges were filed and several participants volunteered to haul the carcass to the dump. Everyone shared a good chuckle and the Anchorage Daily News awarded the tale top billing in their Life section.
Now Linda Walker lay dead in her rented cabin off the Dyea Road with bruises suggesting struggle and blunt force trauma. Her boyfriend Scott Sounder was nowhere around. Officer Lambar could be heard retching out back. This first Thursday of October 1994 was barely seven hours old, but promised to be the town’s fourth day of heavy rain. There was no good day for this, but it being a Thursday somehow made Merickel feel worse...
Article Title
ISBN: 978-1-937854-30-0
Black Lawrence Publishing  |  326 Bigham Street  |  Pittsburgh, PA 15211  |
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