Joan Dunaway was a reporter for the News, and had been one since she and Wy had returned from Europe the year they graduated from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Wy with a degree in education and Jo with a degree in journalism. She’d built up a reputation over the years for ferreting out bad behavior on a legislative and bureaucratic level and writing stories about it. One of the more delightful stories Wy remembered had exposed the invariable habit of the commissioner of the Department of Corrections in hiring long-time friends for jobs tailored to suit their special talents. One of them had been a grocer, Wy recalled. At least the corrections department had made some terrific deals on fresh produce for the four and a half months of the grocer’s tenure of office.
Jo’s juiciest story to date had concerned the then sitting governor, who had vacationed, all expenses paid, in Baja, Bali and Biarritz courtesy of one of the North Slope’s major oil producers. The executive responsible had made the grievous error of not recognizing Jo in the bar of the Baranof Hotel. He had compounded this error by picking her up, seducing her and afterward indulging in pillow talk that drew connections between the vacations and a revision of the state’s subsurface mineral rights law being debated before the legislature the following day. This not unnaturally wound up on the front page of the News. He was a very attractive slimeball, she explained later to Wy, with very blue eyes and an ass as firm and round as a Delicious apple. “I swear to god, I wanted to bite it,” she declared, and she was regretful when he and his ass were indicted and later convicted, fined and imprisoned for bribery of a public official. The governor narrowly escaped prison only by payment of a $330,000 fine, but when the legislature changed hands two years later, they vacated the judgement and repaid the fine to him, with interest. “Ah, Alaska,” Jo said fondly when she heard. “Gays can’t marry and you have to speak English, but you can legally smoke pot and embezzlers never go hungry. Gotta love it.”
Excerpt from the second Liam Campbell novel, So Sure of Death. The fifth, Spoils of the Dead, publishes on February 6, 2021. Order your signed hardcover here.
Author and founder of Storyknife.org.