Friday, September 2, 2011

A Cold Day For Murder

A Cold Day For Murder
Author: Dana Stabenow
Gere Donovan Press, 2011 [original paperback published in 1992]
208 Pages

One of the blogs I follow mentioned this book in a recent post, and it occurred to me that I'd never read anything by Alaskan author Dana Stabenow. I thought it was about time, so I decided to start with A Cold Day For Murder, the first book in the Kate Shugak series and winner of the 1993 Edgar Award for best paperback original. I read the Kindle version, which was released this year and is currently a free download on Amazon.com.

Kate Shugak is a thirty-year-old Alaskan native who lives alone, some five miles from her closest neighbors. She travels by snowmobile and her best friend is her half Husky/half wolf, named Mutt. Her relationships with family (namely her grandmother and a few cousins) is complicated. Actually, Kate herself is a little complicated. In a former life, she worked in Anchorage as an investigator for the D.A.'s office. In fact, she's still recovering from an altercation with a child abuser she was investigating, in which she received permanent injuries.

But now her old friend Jack has made the long trek to Kate's cabin, hoping to get her help on a case. A local park ranger, a young "Outsider" whose father happens to be a U.S. congressman, has gone missing - as has the investigator sent to find him. In solving the mystery of these disappearances, Kate is forced to confront her past, to overcome her fears, and face up to some serious problems in her community.

Stabenow weaves a solid mystery into a unique geographical setting, with some very colorful characters.  Kate is a strong yet tender character who is able to navigate the cultural complexities of her world with a great deal of sensitivity. I have no doubt that she grows considerably over the course of the now eighteen-book (that's amazing!) series.

Most likely, if you like Tony Hillerman's Navajo Tribal Police mysteries, then you'll like this series, too.