Wednesday, November 16, 2011

TBR Challenge Review: A Cold Day for Murder

A Cold Day for Murder
Dana Stabenow
Kate Shugak/Book 1
Berkley/June 1992

From the back cover ~

She's a savvy investigator with the cool toughness of Sam Spade - and a smile that could melt a block of ice. Once the star of the Anchorage D.A.'s office, she's gone back to her roots in the far Alaska north. But Kate's taken her talent for detection along...and trouble knows where to find her.

The Dead of Winter

When a young national park ranger disappears during the long Alaskan winter, everyone assumes the cold got him. But when an investigator goes in after him, and never comes out, the weather may not be all that's killing. Or so thinks Kate Shugak. With her Husky-breed, Mutt, as an ally, she's hunting for answers among the pipeliners, Aleuts, and hardy eccentrics of the rugged American North. But she's heading for thin ice between lies and loyalties
...between justice served and the cold face of murder.

This month's suggested theme is "other genre besides romance". Not an easy task when 90% of the TBR pile is romance but I did manage to find a mystery in there among the rakes and rogues, mistresses and kick-ass chicks. I could have gone with Urban Fantasy but I do read those fairly often. So instead I decide to go in a direction that I rarely travel without at least some shades of romance. And low and behold there was a little smidge of romance in this one. More of a bad break-up with a glimmer of a reunion kind of romance.

This is Stabenow's first mystery novel but not her first published. That was the science fiction novel, Second Star. Then came the mysteries, garnering the Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original for A Cold Day for Murder. The book ended up in my TBR pile not because of the award but because of the location. I've always wanted to go to Alaska. It's the wild far north with a history I've always found fascinating. As it turns out, the location was my favorite part of the novel.

Kate Shugak is hiding out and has been for over a year. Her isolation is about to end when an old friend comes calling with a request she can't refuse. When we first meet Kate, she is far from welcoming to her guests and makes it clear in her actions and words that she is not happy for the company. Kate is not an easy person to like or get to know. Which is why I felt distant from her - watching what happens but not completely engaged in her story. If this had been a movie on TV, I would definitely be doing something else while watching.

Kate may not have engaged my interest but the landscape and culture of the Alaska of her world did. I loved the feel of freedom and danger coming off the pages. It's a world so foreign to what I'm accustomed to and I soaked it up! The mystery and characters paled by comparison and took a backseat to the scenery.

The missing men and their fate is what drives Kate to discover the truth. As she tracks their last days before their disappearances, the tracks eventually lead back to the one place Kate doesn't want to go. The mystery and clues leading to the big reveal are sufficient to bring the reader and Kate to the end of a not so surprising finish. All in all, I might read the next book in the series, still on the fence about that. It's a quick read, only 199 pages, worth the short time to read but nothing to really pull me into the next book.

Rating: C+

Books in this series ~

1. A Cold Day for Murder
2. A Fatal Thaw
3. Dead in the Water
4. A Cold-blooded Business
5. Play With Fire
6. Blood Will Tell
7. Breakup
8. Killing Grounds
9. Hunter's Moon
10. Midnight Come Again
11. The Singing of the Dead
12. A Fine and Bitter Snow
13. A Grave Denied
14. A Taint in the Blood
15. A Deeper Sleep
16. Whisper to the Blood
17. A Night Too Dark
18. Though Not Dead
19. Restless in the Grave


  1. Wow, that's a long series. Do you plan to read the next book?

    I don't know, I was looking for something else to read a few weeks ago and decided to try out mystery and sigh... I don't know if it's because my brain is hot-wired to romance. It just seemed off.

    I think it's great that at least, the setting got to you :) I think we assume so much about Alaska and a lot of it is wrong LOL.

  2. Nath ~ I'll probably get around to reading the next one but I'm not feeling any rush.

    I know so very little about Alaska so it was interesting to see how people in these remote places live.

  3. It seems to be Alaska is getting to be a popular setting... Lot more books with that setting...