Published: October 31, 2019
James Dommek, Jr., an Alaska Native writer and musician, sheds new light on a real-life mystery that pits Native American folklore against the US justice system. In the vast Alaskan Arctic, legend has it there once lived a mythic tribe—Iñukuns—that only existed in rumors and whispers. This changed forever when an actor-turned-fugitive, Teddy Kyle Smith, had an encounter that brought Iñukuns from myth to reality. Smith was an aspiring actor with a promising career until it all came quickly crashing down with a gunshot, a manhunt, bloodshed, and other frightful events.
The story of Smith’s tragic downfall has long haunted James Dommek, Jr., the great-grandson of the last of the Iñupiaq story-tellers. Midnight Son is his journey in discovering who Teddy Kyle Smith was, what he did, and what he really saw. Along the way, listeners will experience the soul of the real Alaska as narrator Dommek, Jr. brings this multilayered and sprawling tale to life.
Teddy Kyle Smith, a retired Marine, started appearing in movies as Alaska’s fledgling film industry was just taking off. But, right after his mother’s mysterious death in Kiana, Smith became the subject of a manhunt.
Smith fled into the wilderness, then shot two hunters at a remote cabin. What he said later brought to life local legends. It also initiated a legal dispute that, at its heart, questions the idea of a trial by one’s peers, if one’s peers do not understand or believe those stories, passed down through generations.
Midnight Son, which quickly become a best-seller for the audiobook service Audible, is narrated by Alaskan writer and musician James Dommek Jr.
Dommek, the great-grandson of Iñupiaq storytellers, says Teddy Smith’s story is really several stories woven together.
I thought this book would be a true crime thriller, but it is surprisingly more. I learned about Alaskan folklore, culture, and story telling in a non-traditional voice. The crime parts seemed secondary to the development of the narrator and that became of greater interest. I wouldn’t recommend to just anybody but it had my attention the whole time. It also gave a much better view of what it’s like to live in the bush than all the television shows out there glamorizing living off the grid.