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2020 ONA Winner for Excellence in Audio Digital Storytelling (limited series)

Publisher's Summary

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. 

Please Note: Midnight Son contains adult language and violent themes. Discretion is advised. 

©2019 Audible Originals, LLC (P)2019 Audible Originals, LLC.

Our favorite moments from Midnight Son

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  • Just a mama’s boy
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  • The movie audition
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  • He’s holding a gun.
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  • Looks more like a house than a cabin.

About the Creator and Performer

James Dommek, Jr. is an Alaska Native musician and audio producer. He has played drums with Alaskan bands The Whipsaws, Pamyua, Meg Mackey Band, and Medium Build, as well as Tim Easton. He is a member of the Iñupiaq tribe and the great-grandson of one of the last Iñupiaq story-tellers, Palangun. James has worked in film and audio production for over a decade. In 2013, he scored an Emmy award-winning documentary. He also composed the soundtrack to Frontiers of Change, an award-winning audio art walk in downtown Anchorage that focused on climate change. Additionally, he co-created (with Anchorage public radio) "The RIVR" (Rising Indigenous Voices Radio), an international online radio station that provides a platform for Alaska Native and American Indian singers, songwriters, and musicians.

James resides in Anchorage, Alaska where he and his girlfriend, Kelsey, focus on raising their four kids, rooted in Alaska Native culture, foods, and traditions. He enjoys subsistence hunting, fishing, and the Alaskan way of life.

About the Creator

Josephine Holtzman is an audio documentarian, podcast producer, and multimedia artist. Her work includes an award-winning multimedia piece about the effects of climate change on Alaska's rural indigenous communities, and a multi-platform project exploring the modern-day impacts of treaties on Native American communities in the US (with NPR's Storylab and the Pulitzer Center). Josephine also hosted an interactive podcast about miscarriage for The Guardian US. With Isaac Kestenbaum, she runs the production company, Future Projects Media. Josephine lives in Portland, Maine with her husband and son.

About the Creator

Isaac Kestenbaum is an independent audio producer and journalist. He was previously the production manager at StoryCorps. He has also worked as a commercial lobsterman, a farmer, and a robotics instructor. He is the recipient of a Peabody Award and an Alaska Broadcasters Association "Goldie" Award, among other honors. Kestenbaum lives in Portland, Maine.

What listeners say about Midnight Son

Average Customer Ratings
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An investigative true crime podcast on Audible

This is done in the style of a true crime investigative journalism podcasts (like Serial) which is pretty different from the usual Audible original. I loved it, but I also really like this style anyway. The storyteller is very gifted and I thought his use of music and sounds was perfect. I learned a lot about Northwest rural Alaska which I appreciated. The story arc was great. I don't understand why other reviewers said it jumped around; he brought everything together at the end nicely. Also I really don't understand why people were giving poor reviews for his writing style/use of language. I counted 7 curse words which is nothing!! People are being judgy but this deserves way higher ratings.

74 people found this helpful

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too much "adult language"

I understand this was to be authentic and the story sounded interesting but to use expletives as punctuation is a bit extreme (F***). I can't tolerate language like that and I don't think it is necessary even to be authentic. That is my two cents as the consumer.

14 people found this helpful

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It’s an Inuit Thing. You possibly don’t understand it.

The negative reviews of the audiobook “Midnight Son” make me sad. They criticize everything from the “story” to the authors choice of words. This is not a story. It’s what’s called non-fiction and true crime. It deals with a man who suffers mental and cultural collapse which is not uncommon among indigenous peoples trying to adapt to European culture and mores. Check the statistics on depression,alcoholism,and suicide among naive peoples everywhere. No, this doesn’t happen to everyone, but it happens far too often. My other problem with the negative reviews is the criticism of the author’s word choice. The big hang up was the use of the “F-bomb.” I’m somewhat shocked to realize that listeners want the author to change his authentic voice to avoid bruising some listeners’ sensibilities. James Dommek Jr. is the tale teller, and he is speaking to us during a long winter’s night as we sit around a fire to hear what he has to pass along. He is speaking from a point of view that European descendants in the lower 48 can’t possibly understand. And that’s what I love about this book. I know little about the contemporary Inuit experience and I welcomed this chance to view, however briefly, life through the eyes of an authentic member of this culture. To me, it is especially important that he trusted me, the listener, enough to speak as if speaking to friends or family members. This is a brief journey to several different worlds, and I welcomed it.

264 people found this helpful

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True Storyteller!

James Dommek Jr. carries on the tradition of storytelling, conveying the reality and difference of Alaskan culture and beliefs while describing a true crime. Totally engaging. Very well done.

8 people found this helpful

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Gripping

I finished this book in one day, it was extremely well written and narrated. It evolved from an interesting story about true crime, to a bit of a lesson about native alaskan history, to a small political message. Left me wanting more of James Dommek Jr.'s story telling.

43 people found this helpful

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Social Commentary Wrapped in Exciting True Crime

Midnight Son may seem like another true crime story, but it is does more than most other pieces in the genre and does it in a way that stands apart from what I've come to expect from the genre. The narrator's unique style and the unique audio production matches the almost alien setting of the Alaskan Arctic. It's a compelling story of a fugitive on the run, but what I'll remember about the story is the portrayal of native american life in this country in 2019 and the way our criminal justice system continues to interact with a marginalized community.

93 people found this helpful

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Fantastic book!!!

This is my very first review of a book on Audible. That says a lot. I have never even given a book stars because I just didn’t care to. But this book is different! I was so gripped by this book, I didn’t even want to go to sleep last night which was when I started listening to it. I even had dreams about it. And listening to the rest of it was the first thing I did this morningI. I have only one complaint...I wish I hadn’t listened to this book at all so that I could hear it for the first time again. Thank you James Dommek Jr. This is my kind of story and you told it well.

38 people found this helpful

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Not worth the listen

Do not waste your time on this book. Could have been a better listen if not for all the unnecessary, every other word profanity.

5 people found this helpful

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Couldn’t stop listening thanks for sharing

Refreshing to hear such a raw and real story from a remote corner of the arctic. The co-author and narrator has a gift. Thanks all who put this together for sharing this story.

5 people found this helpful

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Adventure Alaska's First Peopld

Loved every minute of the story, the reader and the topic. I like the readers to have the accent as it always keeps my interest and draws me into the story because they sound authentic as James Dommek does. The story was well written and make me feel like I was on a journey to discover about the main character. The idea of including tapes from the interviews and the trail let me almost see what was happening.

13 people found this helpful