Posted in excerpt, mystery, Spotlight on July 11, 2015



Under the vast frozen tundra of the northern territories of Canada lie untapped natural resources. There is a fight brewing for control of these profitable resources between the native population and outside interest. In the middle is a revered veterinarian who becomes the unlikely leader of her people after her father’s murder. Can she preserve the soul of her ancestral home and solve her father’s murder?

Nunavut: An Artic Thriller (Dale and Hill, May 2015) by Roger Herst is a David and Goliath story of the Inuit people’s fight to protect their native land and adjoining waterways from a Russian conspiracy to steal its wealth.  Dr. Leeta Quilliq is known in her homeland as the savior of local wildlife. When her politician father dies under mysterious circumstances, she finds herself in embroiled in an international incident that puts the lives of those around her at risk. With the trademark style he brought to his bestselling Rabbi Gabby series, Roger weaves an intriguing, thrilling tale about an unknown land and the one woman who can save it. For fans of mysteries and thrillers, Nunavut: An Artic Thriller is a must-read.


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“My father and I disagreed on many things,” Leetia said with a tinge of hesitation, surveying the others for their reactions. “Whenever I asked about his work, he found a reason to change the subject. It was annoying as hell because he was always grilling me about my animals. He forced me to talk about myself, clumsily avoiding his own feelings. Naturally, I felt that wasn’t fair. You might even say cheated.

But later I came to accept this as a father’s privilege. What alternative had I?”

“He wanted to spare you,” interceded Israel Nanawak, the Assembly’s only non-Inuit legislator who hailed from far-off Prince ofWales Island. “Being deputy in Jerome’s government was a living nightmare. Frankly, I don’t think your father had a single day of pleasure since appointed by the Legislative Assembly.”

Leetia was confused. Had her father kept that much from her? She knew him to be a quiet, introspective individual, but never a discontented public servant. On her frequent visits to Iqaluit, he was always solicitous of her attention. But when she was in Vancouver or at Seafarers they spoke little by phone. He had grown up on the far northern Ellesmere Island when telephones didn’t exist. In later years, when forced to converse with officials over far distances his abruptness was renowned. The minute a subject matter was covered he was known to rudely disconnect without a parting farewell. Email was a modern invention he avoided altogether, relying upon his staff to labor at the computer. Despite this, he was a passionate supporter of technological innovation, believing that it was essential that Nunavut linked itself with Canada through employment of the latest technology.

“What brings you here now?” Leetia asked with a surge of boldness that she feared might offend her guests.

A nod from Jacob signaled Nancy Karetak as the designated speaker. “Things have deteriorated.

Thanks to Jerome and his cronies we now have wide spread corruption. Government jobs go to his friends. Progressive members of the Assembly led by your father are being squeezed out. Jerome is committed to obsolete traditions that make no sense today. To ensure nothing changes he lavishes dubious gifts on settlement leaders who support his views. It’s called vote-buying by any other name. He looks the other way while his cronies steal the territory blind.”

“Are you speaking for yourself, Nancy? Or for others?” Leetia asked.

“For all of us,” Jacob Akesuk interjected through a voice box clogged with tobacco residue. “We have something to tell that will be shocking. I could have told you by phone at Lancaster, but out on the icepack it would have been too cruel. We said nothing this afternoon to maintain the solemnity of the funeral. We wanted to speak with you in privacy.”

Leetia glanced around to the others for a clue, but discovered blank expressions so common among her people.

Jacob paused to give Leetia a moment to prepare herself before saying, “We believe your father’s plane crash wasn’t an accident.We don’t know the full details because Transport Canada authorities haven’t issued an official report yet. Your father was an excellent pilot who had been flying most of his life. North Air Services at the airport testified that their mechanics had inspected and serviced the plane the afternoon before his flight to Pangnirtung. Full service records were published in the newspaper. Whatever happened, we don’t believe it was an accident.”

Leetia’s eyes dropped to her lap and remained there as she struggled to absorb Jacob’s assertion. She eventually returned to the conversation by asking, “Who did this?Who would want to?”

All four government officials spoke, almost in unison, “We don’t know.”

“I assume the authorities left wreckage at the accident site. I saw some of it on the internet.”

“Yes, but the Air Ministry now has it under lock and key.”

“Do you know why Dad went to Pangnirtung?”

Olayuk Simailak, deputy to Jacob in the Department of Finance, answered. “To investigate construction of a new fishing jetty and a costly extension to the runway. His schedule wouldn’t permit him to wait for a commercial flight home and the government’s two pilots are only on license. Both were flying charters in the West. So Norrik flew the Beechcraft himself.”

“That’s a long way to fly for a look at a jetty and an airstrip.”

“It wasn’t the jetty he questioned,” Simailak said. “The construction didn’t have government authorization. No funds were allocated, and these are expensive projects, more than $7,000,000. The locals could never have raised that kind of money without outside assistance. A lot of money is being pumped into Nunavut.We don’t know where it’s coming from.”


“Definitely not, at least not officially. The federal government is cutting back everywhere. The provinces have powerful lobbies. What has Nunavut got in that department? Nobody. We don’t employ a single professional to influence Ottawa.”

“Who’s getting the money?” asked Leetia.

“Scattered settlements.”

“If the money is being used for good causes, why did Dad care?”

“For one thing, it’s illegal. And for another, nothing’s free. Weird things are going on. Jerome’s people don’t care about foreign ships trespassing through our waters. Our borders are wide open. That’s why your father asked you to present our flag before the Russian icebreaker. The armed-services are busy with Afghanistan and there’s no budget for coast-guard units to patrol the Arctic. A string of attacks on American mining exploration have gone completely uninvestigated.Washington complains to Ottawa but nothing gets done. There are rumors that Americans want to handle their own security here but

Ottawa won’t let them. Nothing gets done.”

After a long moment of reflection, Leetia returned her eyes to Jacob Akesuk. “Now that my father’s gone what will happen?”

“The Assembly will appoint someone to sit in his legislative seat until the election. Since that’s less than four months away, no one will be appointed as acting deputy-premier. Jerome is trying to shoe-in one of his cronies to fill your father’s seat temporarily.”

Leetia nodded. “And in the general election? Isn’t Jerome vulnerable?Won’t the electorate put in people who will choose another candidate?”

All her guests began speaking at once, offering their opinions, but slowly stopped chattering to return the floor to Jacob. He waited until there was complete silence, before saying, “Jerome grants his supporters jobs and provides friendly communities with generous hand-outs. Hunters, trappers and fishermen depend upon him for permits. It’s outright bribery. There’s no one with your father’s stature to oppose this vote peddling. And the recipients of these hand-outs don’t want change. ”

“Certainly, there must be someone, even if he doesn’t have Dad’s stature.”

Akesuk refrained from answering, as if to imply that they had come to a stalemate on the issue and that nothing more needed to be said. He placed his empty teacup on a nearby coffee table and meticulously balanced the teaspoon on the saucer. “Oh, yes,” he resumed dramatically, “there is someone.”

“Who’s that?”

Jacob glanced at the others before returning his eyes to Leetia. “You.”

Excerpted from Nunavut: An Arctic Thriller Dale and Hill Publications 2014 with permission from Roger Herst.

About the Author

Roger Herst is the author of nine novels, including the bestselling Rabbi Gabby mystery series. He is an ordained Reform Rabbi with a doctorate in Middle Eastern History, holding undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of California Berkeley, the University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew Union College. Roger lives in Washington, DC with his physician wife.

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