Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Cold Day for Murder: Mini-Review

A Cold Day for Murder (1992) by Dana Stabenow is the first novel in a series starring Kate Shugak and it won the Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original. Kate is an Aleut Indian who left her rather insular home and headed out into the world, winding up the star investigator of the Anchorage D.A.'s office. Her last case in that office was rather horrific involving abuse of a young girl by her father--resulting in emotional trauma for both Kate and the young girl; a scar and damaged voice for Kate; and Kate leaving the D.A.'s office and retreating to her Aleut roots in the far Alaskan north. 

When a young national park ranger with ties to an East Coast senator disappears and then the investigator who is sent to trace him disappears as well, Kate's old boss Jack comes calling and asks for her help. She finds herself asking questions of some of her friends and family--and butting heads with her grandmother who is the real power behind the local Aleut governing body. Her loyalties will be tested and she and Jack will risk their lives before proving what happened to the missing men.

I finished this book just before heading out for a weekend at my parents, so I didn't write up my review in a timely fashion--which means this one is going to be shorter than usual.

Kate is a good heroine in the making. I was a bit disappointed in the action scenes and the the overall mystery solution. There were few clues for the reader and it made it difficult for the reader to arrive at the solution along with Kate. Most of the earnings in the star department come from the descriptions--of the Alaskan setting, of the ways of the Aleut Indians, of Kate's relationships with her family and friends (particularly her grandmother), and of Kate herself. The plot is not nearly as strong as I would expect from an Edgar winner, but it was strong enough to encourage me to keep my eye out for more books in the series. I hope that future books will make more of the mystery plot. 

Overall, a good solid debut novel with interesting characters, a strong female lead, and an excellent sense of place. ★★★ 


Cath said...

I read this first book and was a trifle underwhelmed though, as you said, the sense of place was excellent. Didn't read any more for years and then my son-in-law started gobbling them up so I tried book 2... am now reading book 5 and am so glad I revisited the series as they become excellent after book 1.

Bev Hankins said...

Thanks, Cath. Glad to know I'm not the only one. And glad to hear they get better.

It does make me wonder what the other books that year were like that this one won the Edgar, though.

fredamans said...

I'd give this one a chance. Thought the mystery was somewhat lacking, it seems like a decent enough story to see if the series gets better as it goes.