Sometimes a book becomes an education as well as entertainment. Stabenow's A Cold Day for Murder (Kate Shugak #1) is so firmly planted in the Alaskan setting and indigenous culture, that I had the feeling of almost being present.
The beginning is a little slow but atmospheric as the setting and characters are introduced. Stabenow excels at both, giving depth to the narrative.
Kate Shugak, an Aleut, left her confined home and culture to pursue an education. She then worked for the Anchorage AG office as an investigator for seven years--until a dreadful case sent her into exile after a grievous wound.
A Cold Day for Murder pulls Kate back into investigation when a Park Ranger goes missing and an investigator sent to find him disappears, too.
An strong, independent woman, divided between cultures, Kate remains comfortable with herself, bridging the separations with skill and decency. She is, nevertheless, unhappy at being manipulated into the search for the two missing men, but she also has personal reasons for accepting the challenge.
There are some truly amusing parts that are balanced between the sad situations of many of the indigenous characters. Kate accepts both as a part of life and doesn't get morally upset about people she cares about poaching or the alcoholic problems that beset her friends and relatives, taking it all in and balancing her affection for flawed characters with their self-destructive behavior.
Stabenow won an Edgar for this, her debut novel. Kate is an intriguing, self-sufficient character, and I look forward to continuing this series!
Mystery/Crime. 1992; 2019.