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Death in Dutch Harbor

“Any fan of the Deadliest Catch television show should reach for this book!”

CAPTAIN SIG HANSEN, FV Northwestern and a star of the Deadliest Catch tv series

“Hang on for a stormy ride when you open Death in Dutch Harbor! As a Bering Sea captain, I can tell you Ms. Parker’s attention to detail is spot-on. It’s a whodunnit murder on the
high seas I couldn’t put down.”


CP Arctic Fjord


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Death in Dutch Harbor

When two murders strain the police force of a remote Alaskan fishing port, veterinarian Maureen McMurtry is tapped by Dutch Harbor’s police chief for forensic assistance. The doctor’s got a past she’d rather not discuss, a gun in her closet and a retired police dog that hasn’t lost her chops. All come in handy as she deciphers the cause and time of death of a local drug addict washed ashore with dead sea lions, and an environmentalist found in a crab pot hauled from the sea  in the net of a fishing vessel. When her relationship with a boat captain is swamped by mounting evidence that he’s the prime suspect in one of the murders, McMurtry struggles with her own doubts to prove his innocence. But can she? McMurtry’s pals, a manager of the Bering Sea crab fishery, and another who tends Alaska’s most dangerous bar, assist in unraveling the sinister truth.  


About the Author


"Write what you know, right?" says D. MacNeill Parker.

The author and her family are long time participants in the Alaska fishing industry. In addition to fishing for halibut, salmon, crab, and cod, she’s been a journalist, a fisheries specialist for the State of Alaska, and a seafood company executive. Married to a fisherman, halibut bought their first home in Kodiak. She’s travelled to most ports in Alaska including small villages on the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers and above the Arctic Circle. She’s trekked mountains in the Chugach range, rafted the Chulitna River, worked in hunting camps, skied the remote Arctic to Indian traverse, survived a boat that went down off the coast of Kodiak, and weathered many rough and tumble fishery management meetings. Parker’s been to Dutch Harbor many times experiencing her share of white knuckler airplane landings and beer at the Elbow Room, famed as Alaska’s most dangerous bar. While the characters in this book leapt from her imagination, they thrive in this authentic setting. The author loves Alaska, the sea, a good yarn and her amazing family.

For comments and questions from readers or media inquiries,

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D. MacNeill Parker

Excerpt from Death in Dutch Harbor

Eric took the blanket he’d laid on the ice bench and draped it over the guy’s shoulders, just a kid, really. He folded the kids hands so they lay on his lap and packed ice at his sides so he would remain secure for the rough ride back to port. Reaching into the chest pocket of his own jacket, he removed a pack of cigarettes. His hand shook as he lit two.

“We smoke the same brand,” he said, bending to wedge one in Guy’s gray lips. He smoked the other cigarette, all the while talking to the kid as if his spirit lingered nearby. “What a bummer,” he said, “dying so young.” He told the kid he would be missed by someone and promised to get him home. Hearing his voice crack, Eric turned away as if he didn’t want Guy to see him that way. Then he closed the freezer door.

Guy sat in the bait locker, the cigarette still hanging from his lips. The freezing temperature caused the saltwater on his eyelashes and beard to crystallize. He looked as if he were climbing Mt. Everest instead of sitting propped-up, dead in a fishing boat bait locker headed to Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

Praise For Death in Dutch Harbor

“Any fan of the Deadliest Catch television show should reach for this book!”

“From the first scene, she evokes the real Dutch Harbor and the dynamic people who call it home. It’s a roaring mystery that braids together oil rigs, fishing, sea lions and the kind of Russians we love to hate. Death in Dutch Harbor is a must read for anyone who wants to vicariously experience a rugged world on the edge of an unforgiving sea”

Death in Dutch Harbor grabbed me at the outset and did not let go. Right away you can tell Ms. Parker knows the issues facing the fishing industry in the Bering Sea. She weaves them into the tale and uses her characters to draw the reader deeper into the murder mystery.”

CAPTAIN SIG HANSEN, FV Northwestern and a star of the Deadliest Catch tv series


Former Director Marine Conservation Alliance, Federal Fishery Observer


Former Mayor of Dutch Harbor/Unalaska

In The Press

Read More:

“D.M. Parker has cast a net in the sea and hauled back a stellar story that will have you hooked in no time. There’s no substitute for first-hand experience and Parker shows she’s got it on every page of Death in Dutch Harbor. Her description of a wave shattering the windows of a fishing boat wheelhouse brought back chilling memories of my time at the helm. Based on her vivid descriptions of boats and bars, I suspect she’s weathered storms at sea and danced at least one night away at the Elbow Room.”
CAPTAIN DAVE FRASER, Retired, FV Muir Milach, Steller Sea Lion Recovery Team

Tips for Aspiring Authors

You can't catch a fish if your hook's not in the water. Like fishing, you can't write a book without your pen on paper!

Start Writing!

As a first-time novelist, I’m no expert but there are a few things I wished I’d known from the day it dawned on me to write this book. Some things came naturally. Others required work. None of it is original, but this was the winning combo for me. Maybe it’ll help you find yours.


Front and center are these three words: Just do it! From that flows hands-on learning.

Another three words: Keep it simple! Pick a genre that’s not complex. I chose crime mystery of which there are several subgenres. What’s better than a whodunnit with an obvious goal; find the killer? But there are other simple genres like romance, western and action thrillers.
Literary fiction was not my aim. Just a great story that would keep readers entertained and flipping the pages. And pick a Point of View that’s simple like first or third person with a single protagonist. I chose third person. It took me awhile to figure out how to get inside the
protagonist’s head using third instead of first person, but that’s where I was most comfortable.


How about four words this time: Write what you know! I know commercial fishing in Alaska so that was my backdrop. It gave the book an authentic feel, and no research was


Here’s four more words: Story structure, learn it! Kurt Vonnegut is well known for his offered plot line guidance. He throws the protagonist into a deep hole. The story is how the hero climbs out by the book’s ending (Kurt Vonnegut, YouTube). Aside from that trek out of the big hole (a hero’s journey), each scene should have its own set of pot holes that are navigated using five components (Story Grid, YouTube). This was the light bulb lesson for me. Start each scene (often a chapter for me) with an inciting incident that launches your protagonist on a path with progressive complications or obstacles to overcome until they reach the turning point complication that forces a crisis question for the protagonist to answer with an action, the climax. This choice is never easy because as an author, it’s your job to keep clobbering your hero with tough choices. The protagonist’s chosen action often reveals something of his or her character and allows readers to get to know the hero better without being told (remember, show don’t tell). The resolution is the final scene segment when you get to see how the choice worked out for protagonist. I often dropped inclusion of the resolution in the same scene (allowing it to crop up later) because I wanted to end it with a cliff hanger. I wanted each scene to leave readers wanting
more. A page-turner…


Are you a Plotter or Pantser? Plotters draft a detailed outline before they start writing. They’ve got a roadmap! They know where they’re going! They make fewer wrong turns than Pantsers. Pantsers write by the seat of their pants. I’m a Pantser. It’s an adventure because not even I know how the story will unfold. But I’m not a total empty-head. I know where I am going (to solve the murder). I just don’t know what’s going to happen along the way. So, for instance, when I started writing my book, Death in Dutch Harbor, I knew it was a crime mystery, I knew it would take place in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and that it would use commercial fishing as a backdrop to the action. I knew the protagonist was a veterinarian working with the local police chief and I knew she had a three-legged police dog and a couple of close buddies that were critical to the story. Finally, I knew someone would be killed at sea. I even wrote a prologue describing the murder (which later became a chapter), but I had no idea who did it or why. Armed with little else, I began to write. Each time I started, my brain seemed to relocate to the tips of my fingers, waiting there poised over the keyboard, for the action to begin. Where would it take me? I couldn’t wait to find out! By the end of the first chapter another dead body had washed ashore. After I wrote a few more chapters, I decided it was time to use a compass and so wrote the last chapter where all the whodunnit stuff was revealed. No pressure really because I knew I could change it later if it made for a better story, which I did. With the compass now pointed north, I returned to writing chapters knowing that each scene must drive the story forward in that general direction. In the case of a murder mystery, I knew I had to offer up a clue, a red herring or a complicating factor in every scene. My fingers marched across the keyboard anxious to see what it might be. I can tell you that there were a few times when I was so astonished, I stood up, walked to the bathroom mirror, pointed at myself and raved that I was a genius. “You are brilliant!” Of course, I’m not a genius but what a fun adventure, sort of like life itself. But there’s a downside to the Pantser world. It’s called revisions. Without the roadmap used by Plotters, we Pantsers are likely doomed to writing many revisions because our plot or characters take a wrong turn and get stuck in the mud somewhere. I’m not sure if a person is a born a Pantser or Plotter or if it’s a conscious choice. Perhaps something down the middle might be the best course. A Plotser? 


Finally, join or start a writing group. What's the downside to having a deadline, constructive criticism of your work, and a gang of new friends. I doubt I could have produced chapters at such a regular pace without my writing group. Thank you, Gang!

So, write the darn book. And take some courses along the way for a hands-on learning experience because I’ve just scratched the surface of what there’s to learn about writing a book.


Most importantly, have fun! Hopefully, you’ll get it published. Then write another…

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