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on 15 January 2003
I bought this book on a recommendation from a friend and wasn’t disappointed. I am a big fan of those capable female sleuths (you know, Kinsey Milhone and the like), and Kate Shugak lives up to all expectations you might have. Quite the strong, silent type, she’s clearly had some painful experiences as a cop before the series starts (this is the first of a dozen so far, so there’s lots more to be looking forward to!), and as a result has resigned and now lives alone with her dog in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness. Apart from the crime plot, the scenery and way of life play a good part in the book, and contribute to the “lived-in” feeling – not a surprise since the author herself lives up there!
All in all, a very good book, if off the beaten track (well it’s a change from forensic pathologists!) – a good find, and I shall be reading more about her!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 13 January 2009
On the one hand, a great whodunit placed in a fascinating setting (the far Alaska north) by a writer who really knows her stuff. (The writer, Dana Stabenow, lives in Alaska and it shows). On the other hand, the novel had such a gloom and doom atmosphere, it left me very much depressed after I had finished it. Oh well, maybe that is a sign of good writing; intentional or not, it's a darn good read anyway.
Kate Shugak, the heroine of this novel, is a traumatized ex-investigator of the Anchorage D.A.'s office, who gets - against her will, with a lot of arm-twisting - called upon to investigate the disappearance of two men because she knows the area (and its eccentric people) like the back of her hand. She also knows she's not going to like the answers to this mystery - and boy, is she right (but I'll leave that to the reader to find out).
In between, we meet up with a lot of fascinating, larger-than-life characters that seem to have stepped straight out of Northern Exposure. It does have enough humor in it to put a smile upon your face now and then (just visit the Roadhouse to see what I mean). Alaska is cold, rugged and dangerous, deadly to the unwary, so a sense of humor seems one of the required survival-traits to live there.
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on 1 September 2011
I bought this book after reading the other reviews on Amazon, I have recently read all of the Jo Nesbo (Harry Hole) series and am quite into 'foreign' crime authors so thought I would give this a go.

Firstly I'd just like to say that I did quite enjoy this book in the end and found myself looking forward to reading it. However, I am not a big fan of the writing style, I don't really know how to express myself but I just found it a bit jarring. There is A LOT (!!!!) of alaskan and native american jargon and it makes no attempt a lot of the time to explain what it means, it just assumes you will understand.
If you can get past this it does make a really good read and then I guess once you are used to it it will make the other books easier to read.

I really enjoyed the characters and the atmosphere of the scene descriptions so I think it's worth giving it a try.
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on 30 June 2011
I like free books for my Kindle. I don't always buy the next books though.

However. I want books 6-->18 now on my kindle. I don't want to wait, they are gripping, interesting and certainly make me think of other ways to live and be.

A strong woman. love interest, a big half wolf dog.... what's not to like. and good Whodunnit material, really gripping and I couldn't wait for the next.

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on 19 September 2005
Aleut detective Kate Shugak, formerly a gifted investigator for the Anchorage D.A.'s office, moved back to Alaska's far north country after a horrible child abuse case left her scarred physically and emotionally. She now resides on a 160-acre homestead with her half-wolf, half-husky, half-breed canine, Mutt, and makes her living as a private investigator. "A Cold Day for Murder," Dana Stabenow's debut mystery in this wonderful series featuring PI Shugak won an Edgar award in 1993.
A national park ranger has gone missing in the Alaskan boondocks in the middle of winter, which signifies almost certain death from exposure. It has been more than six weeks since anyone heard from him. The young man's father, a US Congressman, demands that every effort be made to find his son. When the FBI agent assigned to search for the ranger goes missing, Kate Shugak, a native of the area where the two men were last seen, and an expert in Arctic wilderness survival skills, is asked to take the case, she accepts although their trail is now colder than the weather.
Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak novels are consistently good to excellent, and this first one is a real favorite of mine. The author delves into Kate's background, presents some of her family members, spins a thrilling mystery, and touches on the political issues of environmental protection and loss of native cultures that Ms. Shugak holds dear. She also explores the relationship between Jack Morgan, Kate's former boss and lover, and our sleuth heroine.
One of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much, and many others in the series, is their Arctic setting and the details of native life and culture. The author's descriptions of the region's physical geography are wonderful. Her characters are original, complex and the dialogue is excellent - full of dark humor. Kate Shugak is super savvy, tough, prickly, and vulnerable, although she hides it well. She has a deep loyalty and abiding love for her people and the land.
A terrific read and a winning sleuth series!
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on 11 June 2012
I downloaded this book, shortly after buying a kindle, because it was free. I will admit that I wasn't expecting anything special. How wrong I was. From the very first page to the last, this is an engaging read. The investigation, although intriguing, almost takes second place to the awesome setting and at times, tragic plight, of the native Alaskan population.

The heroine, Kate is of the Aleut people and we experience this vast, beautiful and at times, forbidding landscape through her eyes. When we first meet her, she comes across as surly and uncommunicative but we learn she has good reason to be. She has been traumatised by a case she worked on some months before.

However, its not all bleak Alaskan winter, there is a great deal of humour as well.

The other characters are as varied as they are fascinating. From Kate's extended family to the 'Outsiders', they all come to life on the page. Some rather larger than life.

I was so enthralled by this book that I read it in one sitting and can't wait to read the next one.
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on 22 April 2013
If you're a fan of Sue Grafton's feisty Kinsey Millhone, you'll know Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak already. I like her well enough, but I'm not sure that in spite of the fact that she didn't exist before, anyone really had to invent her.

The setting, though, is wonderfully exotic: Alaska is certainly a foreign land to me, and I thoroughly enjoyed encountering a whole new way of life and the lexicon that goes with it.

The investigation can seem glacially slow at times, as much Alaskan background and research is delivered between times, but that's OK - and perhaps now that #1 in the series has done this job, #2 etc can get moving in what will soon be more familiar territory.
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on 26 February 2012
Downloaded this book because it sounded interesting and had good reviews. Enjoyed the book very much not just as a thriller but learning about bush Alaska. Kate Shugak is a complex character not entirely sympathetic but she grows on you. Then proceeded to read the entire series, now very much a Kate Shugak/Dana Stabenow fan. Great to have a strong female lead.
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on 2 March 2013
I purchased this because I was feeling rather jaded by the run of the mill female detective / mystery type novels that seem to be all very much the same.
Kate Shugak is a former investigator with the DA's office who has returned to the outskkirts of her native homeland of Alaska to heal her wounds and her soul after a traumatic incident that is only mentioned in passing - I hope in future stories we will find out more of her previous life as it has molded her into the woman she is today.
Without giving too much of the story away, Kate is called upon to investigate the disappearance of two men because she knows the area and its people like the back of her hand. You know immediately as she does that she won't like the outcome but she takes the job and we are taken on a fascinating journey across Alaska.
I agree with the other reviewer who says the lack of explanation about the Alaskan / Native American jargon makes the story slightly difficult to follow at times, but other than that this was a pleasant new twist on the female detective story.
I look forward to reading the next book
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on 6 December 2011
Sharp, witty, strong characters and relationships, a twist at the end and descriptive passages written so beautifully I almost checked my toes for frostbite. Not a wasted word.This book isn't really a whodunnit so much as a series of reasons to visit and not to visit Alaska. An absolute gem, although my dictionary was kept rather busy. I just hope that the rest in the series are as good.
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