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.