There's a lot to like about A COLD DAY FOR MURDER. Kate Shugak is a much more realistic character than most female private eyes on the best-seller list. She's an Aleut Indian and former investigator for the Anchorage District Attorney's office, but at the beginning of the story, she's returned home to the Alaskan northland, sulking about a case gone wrong during which she was brutally injured. She's been hiding out, pretty much living a hermit's existence when Jack Morgan, her former boss and lover, shows up to ask her to investigate the disappearance of a Park Ranger, who's been missing for six weeks, and one of his investigators who went looking for him. Coincidentally, the park ranger is also a Congressman's son.
The best part of the book is the atmosphere. It's cold up there and people get around by snow machine and plane or helicopter. Everything is expensive because it must be flown in. There's moose hunting and played out gold and silver mines and drunken Aleuts whose favorite pastime is fighting. The Aleut families are close-knit and there is reverence for seniors, as is evidenced by Ekaterina, Kate's grandmother, one of the first people Kate talks to about the case. She's the former president of the Native American Council and she plays dumb about what happened. The Aleuts hate Outsiders and a missing park ranger doesn't concern them much.
The structure of A COLD DAY FOR MURDER is pretty straight-forward. Shugak, and her dog Mutt, a part wolf Siberian husky, track the ranger's movements the day he disappeared. He wasn't too popular, being a greenie and all and recommending that the park be opened for Outsiders. The dialogue is sometimes repetitive and any astute reader can figure out who done it by about mid book. But I'm so starved for a Hillerman replacement that I plan to order another Kate Shugak mystery.