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Run Cold (Edna Ferber Mysteries) Hardcover – 19 Feb 2019
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"Run Cold is a lovely testament to a real-life novelist who chronicled some of the turning points in the America of the 20th century. This is a series to read from start to finish! " - Reviewing the Evidence
About the Author
Ed Ifkovic taught literature and creative writing at a community college in Connecticut for over three decades. His short stories and essays have appeared in the Village Voice, America, Hartford Monthly, and Journal of Popular Culture. A longtime devotee of mystery novels, he fondly recalls discovering Erle Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason series in a family bookcase, and his immediate obsession with the whodunit world. www.edifkovic.com
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The year is 1958. Miss Ferber has written "Ice Palace," her fictional retelling of Alaska pioneers in the years following World War I. Not published yet, though. She’s returned to Fairbanks, to visit and recharge. Alaska is still a territory; there are opponents within the would-be state and in the American congress. Big, sprawling Alaska, caught between the present and the knowledge of a lawless past. Still frontier, still rough, with parts that wouldn’t show up in a guidebook, then or now. Harsh and unforgiving (the author elaborates on this throughout the book). Edna is there to follow up on “loose ends, haunting stories, and unanswered questions.” She’s going to be introduced to them in a big way, in "Run Cold."
We meet the dramatis personae quickly. Jack Mabie – the “meanest man in Alaska.” Yukon pioneer, murderer by his own admission – the frontier justice of legend. Now’s he’s old, tired, crippled by a stroke. Sam Pilot, his long-time friend and co-conspirator. And alibi-giver for the past, as it happens. Sonia and Paul Petrievich, she a newspaper reporter, he her twin, a cypher in the family. We meet the parents, Hank and mother, Irina, too. Hank bigger than life, a pioneer that built an empire in the north. There’s Ty Gilley, looking for his lost father, a victim of that frontier justice. Preston Strange and his mother Tessa, self-proclaimed most powerful woman in Alaska. And Noah West, Athabascan Indian and now college-educated lawyer, advocate for his people, and Sonia’s beloved. He lives in both worlds, the “brown” and the white. Comfortable enough until the murders occur.
All of these people coexist until long buried secrets threaten. Then the murders start, culminating in Sonia’s death (one that you can kinda see coming, but distressing, all the same). Now betrayal and heartbreak are part and parcel of the plot. Dark secrets and unhappy lives busted out for anyone to see. As an Outsider, Edna’s asked to fight the good fight and see that justice is done. (It’s telling that law enforcement plays little part in this story. It’s pretty much Edna, from start to finish.)
“Grief can push folk into madness,” says one of the characters, and this simple pronouncement is at the heart of the story. With all gathered in the hotel that is also almost a character, Edna relates a story of vengeance and aftermath, and how the past shapes the future in unforeseeable and horribly sad ways.
Prominent in the story is the author’s interpretation of how the Athabascans, the Dené, are reacting to the changes taking place. Much space is given over to this. Understand that this becomes almost as important as the murder plot. This may not be to every reader’s taste, but the path to exposing a murderer is not always a straight one.
The epilogue explains what happened to many of the characters, which was definitely appreciated and appropriate for the story. It also relates what impact Edna Ferber’s "Ice Palace" had on the public of the times, many considering that its publication helped to push through the vote for statehood. To the fictional Miss Ferber, the accolades are ashes. Readers do at least get an idea that Edna and those she cares about are moving on, which is pretty much all you can hope for after finishing “Run Cold." But this is not a bad thing, this is the author’s skill at creating a brilliant fictional world.
Thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for a copy of the book in advance of publication, in exchange for this review.
On her first trip in 1957 to collect information and color for her newest novel, Edna Ferber met folks she holds dear. She loves Alaska but only in the heat of summer and it is March of '58 when she finds herself on a DC Clipper and on her way, which is still very much winter that close to the Arctic. Perhaps it is the draw of those dear friends she made on her first trip as she prepared to write her novel of the heart of the only remaining American wilderness, now on the verge of attaining statehood as the 49th state in the United States.
The Petrievich family, Hugh and Irina, Peter and Sonia are second or third generation Alaskan pioneers. Irina runs their home and Hugh and daughter Sonia, with a half-hearted assist from her twin brother Paul, are the soul of their weekly newspaper, the Fairbanks Gold Dust Gazette, a pro-statehood paper. Noah West is an Alyeska Athabascan native and attorney born way up north and educated by the Petrievich family in the lower 48. Clint Bullock, a crippled up old-time placer miner with a small cabin overgrown by modern multi-storied housing in downtown Fairbanks. Edna considered them all great friends, and she was drawn to see the battle for and against statehood to its end. Ice Palace will be released in the spring. Alaska is trying to grow up....
Edna is thrilled to see them all again and meet a few new characters as well. Jack Mabie, the meanest man in Alaska since the gold rush days. His sometimes friend, sometimes enemy Sam Pilot. Noah's sister Maria West who is at times a shady lady. Some of them will be murdered before Alaska attains statehood into the United States on July 1, 1958. Edna can only watch. And hope her friends will make it through.
Run Cold is the tenth of Ifkovic's Edna Ferber Mysteries, but is completely stand alone. Be prepared to find the first nine, however, after you read this tenth one, as they are excellent, multi-faceted stories told very well.
I received a free electronic copy of this excellent historical novel from Netgalley, Ed Ifkovic, and Poisoned Pen Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me.
The pace of the book was just too slow, and repetitive from time to time. Could be something to do with the cold, gloomy weather of Alaska and as well as the advanced age of Edna Ferber, the plot just did not move fast enough. The beginning, especially, took me awhile to get into. The book certainly had good bone for a great mystery novel as I was eager to find out who was responsible for the murders, but the writing somehow did not make this a page turner. To do the book justice, though, the plot was great. The writing about the old Alaska was wonderfully written, and I love the author's detail descriptions of how a writer would think, contemplate and act under all circumstances and situations. Ed Ifkovic put life into Edna Ferber as if the famous writer herself was a genuine amateur sleuth herself. Random mentioning of Edna Ferber's books in the story was a nice touch, too.
In short, the premise and the structure of the story were great but the pace was too slow to suit my liking. It looks like a series I might be interested in but not on top of my list at the moment. A 3.5 star rating overall, but the plot itself deserved a 4 star.