Kate Shugak is a fairly volatile character. The 5ft 1″ spitfire is a native Aleut, Private Investigator who knows the Alaskan wilderness better than anyone else. When the local authorities can’t find the answers, they brave the icy demeanour of reclusive Kate.
In A Cold Day for Murder Shugak investigates two disapearances in her small hometown. Facing small-town suspicion and gossip-mongering, she slowly finds the truth. Her quirky Husky/Wolf mix, Mutt, acts as quite the animated sidekick and bodyguard, as Kate breaks hearts and busts lies left, right and centre.
From the get go, Stabenow’s talent at describing the landscape and lifestyle of the Alaskan wilderness is apparent. Throughout the book, she sets the scene in a way that brings the surroundings to life, and her passion for the culture is evident.
At times, it almost seems that the characters and the mystery are secondary to the illustrative descriptions and a peek into the lifestyle of people who are cut off from the rest of the world for six months of the year. While this focus on surroundings and community was fascinating, and did go towards explaining why people acted as they did, the novel could have benefited from more detail in the development of characters and the mystery itself – which was, after all, what the story was based around!
I enjoyed the book, and found the ending a surprise (which was great, as I often pick the endings of crime novels early on). However, upon reflection, the plot was a little weak. It was Stabenow’s ability to transport the reader to the Alaskan wilds that saved it, and made the book a worthwhile read.
If you are after a crime novel with an intricate plot, and many twists and turns, perhaps this isn’t the book for you. But if you are interested in a book that draws you into a very foreign culture, with some light mystery on the side, then why not give it a try? The e-book only cost a few dollars on iTunes, and you can get the paperback for a good price from Amazon or the Book Depository. I have downloaded and read the next book in the series the day after I read the first – so that’s saying something!
I’d love to hear from anyone else who’s read this book, and find out what they thought about it!