A Cold Day for Murder by Dana Stabenow

I’ve never heard of Dana Stabenow but she’s got an excellent marketing strategy. Two of her earliest mystery novels, this and Fire and Ice are available on Kindle for a grand sum of absolutely nothing at all. So if you like the freebie, you may well be inclined to invest in the rest of the series. If not, you’ve lost nothing.

A Cold Day For Murder is the first in a series of (to date) eighteen mysteries featuring Kate Shugak – a former investigator for the Anchorage District Attorney, who has retreated into isolation in the depths of Alaska following the rescue of a child that left her scarred, both internally and externally. But when the son of a US Senator goes missing in the The Park, and an FBI agent sent to find him disappears as well, Kate is persuaded to investigate. But after over a year away from her one-time home, is she ready to face some dark truths about her friends and family?

Well there’s no point asking if this book is value-for-money, is there? But did it make me want to go out and buy more of the series?

Let’s start with the setting. Alaska, and in particular non-Anchorage Alaska, is like another world to me. The descriptions of life in this final frontier are mesmerising, whether Stabenow is discussing the staple diet (moose-meat features regularly), the tribal mentality conflicting with the demands of the industries or even the best type of snowmobile to use in the area. The characters are very well presented. Kate is “wounded”, as the standard hero/heroine would be in such a story but believably so, both in the cause and the effect. It’s interesting to see such a character that, despite having issues, is not depressing to read about. Her supporting cast also comes to life, notably Jack Morgan, her sometime partner in more ways than one, and especially Mutt, her massive and loyal dog.

As for the mystery? Well, it trundles along nicely – it’s not particularly well-clued, but there are pointers to the culprit. I would point out that I found the identity of the villain of the piece pretty inevitable about two-thirds of the way through the book, but the mystery is good enough, given the quality of the rest of the book. Oh, and I did like the bit with the vomit – no spoilers on that bit, I’m afraid!

Will I be buying more of the series? I think there’s a distinct possibility of that – once I’ve completed my Mystery Tour of the USA.


  1. A nice review, and I agree, this is a very good marketing strategy. Jeffrey Marks has a free book now called THE AMBUSH OF MY NAME. He’s written several excellent biographies and it’s a historical piece set in the Civil War, so I think you might be interested in that!


  2. I’ve read all of the Kate Shugak books and anxiously await #19 in a couple of weeks. I highly recommend them! The cast of characters continues to improve and there is nice bit of humor and quirk incorporated with the mystery and bush life.


  3. Do not fail to read every single one of her books, both the shorter Liam Campbell series and the 18 Kate Shugak books (19th arrives on 2/14/12 and brings Kate and Liam together to solve a murder). The books are compelling, exciting, very funny at times (Breakup is a riot!), and you’ll find Alaska and her people to be fascinating characters as well. I’m counting the days to the release of Restless in the Grave.


  4. […] In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel Spoiler Free Reviews of Fair Play Detective Fiction Skip to content HomePaul DohertyHugh CorbettThe Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother AthelstanAmerotke, Chief Judge of ThebesThe Journals of Roger ShallotThe Canterbury TalesThe Ancient Rome MysteriesMathilde of WestminsterAlexander The GreatKathryn SwinbrookeOther Historical MysteriesAlys ClareAriana FranklinSteve HockensmithMichael JecksBernard KnightPeter TremayneEllery QueenSir Henry MerrivaleChallenges2012 ChallengesThe Mystery Tour of the USASherlock HolmesThe Author ← A Cold Day for Murder by Dana Stabenow […]


  5. […] A Cold Day for Murder by Dana Stabenow – the first in a long series of mysteries set in Alaska and best of all, it’s free! A deliberate marketing strategy designed to lure people into liking a book and then buying more. How underhand. It certainly worked on me – I’ve bought the next one (and even that was pretty cheap) based on this one. There’s another series by the same author which has followed the same pattern – the first book is Fire and Ice. […]


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