(Image from Barnes & Noble)
After her throat is nearly slit in a knife fight with a child molester, Aleut detective Kate Shugak retreats to the Alaskan bush to (figuaratively) lick her wounds. Haunted by her days as a sex crimes investigator in Anchorage, the 30-year-old desperately needs time away. There's no better place to be alone than the wilderness, where she leads a solitary existence with just her wolf-dog, Mutt.
When a very green park ranger from Ohio goes missing in the bush, Kate is called in to investigate. Mark Miller, the 21-year-old son of a U.S. Congressman, is an enthusiastic and naive supporter of opening federal lands to outsiders. Did he tick off the wrong local? Or just get lost in the vast and vicious Alaskan wilderness? Kate suspects the former. Determined to figure out what happened to the congressman's kid, she sifts through clues that point in an ever more sinister direction. Can Kate keep her own demons at bay long enough to find the answers she seeks? Can she solve a mystery, the investigation of which is becoming more and more dangerous every day? Or will Kate be the next person to mysteriously disappear in the harsh Alaskan bush?
A Cold Day for Murder, the first novel in Dana Stabenow's popular mystery series starring Kate Shugak, brings Alaska to vivid life, introducing colorful characters, complex politics, and a beautiful, unforgiving landscape. The story also offers a pull-no-punches plot with a very intriguing heroine at its center. A study in contrasts, Kate is tough but compassionate, cold but warm, angry but accommodating (at least when someone needs her help). It's difficult not to admire her tenacity. Although A Cold Day for Murder gets slow in places, overall it tells a compelling story. It's gritty and gruesome, true, but it's also surprisingly funny at times. For the most part, I enjoyed it.
(Readalikes: Reminded me of The Wild Inside by Christine Carbo; the Lizzy Snow series [Winter at the Door; The Girls She Left Behind] by Sarah Graves; the Anna Pigeon series [Track of the Cat; etc.] by Nevada Barr; and the Bell Elkins series [A Killing in the Hills; Bitter River; Summer of the Dead; Last Ragged Breath; Sorrow Road; and Fast Falls the Night] by Julia Keller)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for strong language, violence, blood/gore, sexual content, and disturbing subject matter (child abuse, alcohol abuse, poverty, etc.)
To the FTC, with love: Another library