A Cold Day for Murder (Kate Shugak Mystery)
by Dana Stabenow
Review by Gayle Surrette
Berkley Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 042513301X
Date: 01 June, 1992 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Kate Shugak was an investigator for the Anchorage D.A.'s office until she got her throat cut. Now she's returned to her cabin and land in Denali National Park, about twenty-five miles from the nearest town, Niniltna. Kate's been in the Park for over a year when her former boss, Jack Morgan brings in an FBI agent to ask for her help in finding a missing ranger and the agent they sent in to find him. Kate doesn't want to get involved but she helped train the agent that's lost and she's related to most of the people in the Park so she is the best choice. Kate and Mutt (her half-wolf companion) set out to find the missing men or their bodies and determine how they died.
Kate is a wonderful character. She's intelligent, sharp, witty, and a force of nature. Kate bridges the gap between the Aleut heritage, and how life used to be, and the modern era. She understands both sides and does her best to be true to the spirit of her heritage. She's also an investigator with a keen eye that sees connections in the mundane evidence and she's not afraid of the hard truths. In this book we get to see Kate make some really hard choices and she chooses based on her character and that makes an impression on the reader. Justice and truth must go hand-in-hand for the good of all. But there is a difference between the letter and the spirit of the law and Kate walks that fine line.
This is a first in a series of books with Kate Shugak as the main character. Stabenow has a vivid character in Kate and a way of getting the reader to feel the vastness and beauty of the Alaskan setting. The history and politics of the state are woven into the narrative seamlessly along with the plot and characters. This is definitely a writer to put on your watch list.