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156 of 165 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Once more, with gusto
A rookie federal Park Ranger/son-of-a-congressman, and an investigator sent to find him, go missing in the cold expanse of Kate Shugak's Alaskan Park (occupying "twenty million acres, almost four times the size of Denali National Park but with less than one percent of the tourists.") Reluctantly, Kate, a former D.A's investigator herself until a run-in with a child...
Published on January 12, 2002 by TundraVision

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116 of 120 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A candidate to replace Hillerman?
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...
Published on December 24, 2002 by Dave Schwinghammer


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116 of 120 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A candidate to replace Hillerman?, December 24, 2002
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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.
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156 of 165 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Once more, with gusto, January 12, 2002
By 
TundraVision (o/~ from the Land of Sky Blue Waters o/~) - See all my reviews
A rookie federal Park Ranger/son-of-a-congressman, and an investigator sent to find him, go missing in the cold expanse of Kate Shugak's Alaskan Park (occupying "twenty million acres, almost four times the size of Denali National Park but with less than one percent of the tourists.") Reluctantly, Kate, a former D.A's investigator herself until a run-in with a child molester left him dead and her soured her on the job and a major portion of "civilization," is on the case.
This is the first of Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak mystery series, and I'm glad I went back and started at the beginning. The reader is introduced to Jack Morgan, the aforementioned D.A., with whom Kate had an affair before leaving his employ in Anchorage to return home to the environs and inhabitants of her native Village and Park. The characters and locale will become old familiar friends as this series wends on.
The introduction to Jack Morgan is particularly resonant:"He looked like John Wayne ready to run the claim jumpers off his gold mine on that old White Mountain just a little southeast of Nome, if John Wayne had been outfitted by Eddie Bauer." (If you are clueless about the humour, I suggest you go over to videos and get a copy of the movie "North to Alaska" - pay attention to the song being sung during the credits.) That Johnny Horton song is on jukeboxes everywhere here in our part of the Tundra, and everybody sings along ;-) And, speaking of jukeboxes and bars, the scene at Bernie's Bar in the book is really a hoot!
Along the way to finding out what happened to the Ranger and his would-be rescuer, Stabenow gives the reader an overview of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and life in the villages. It's a good start to a good series and I recommend it.
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66 of 70 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Impressive debut, September 29, 2000
Kate Shugak is a loner. She's a loner on a homestead on federal land in Alaska. She's a loner because she killed a child abuser years ago and it haunts her. It left physical and mental scars. All of this makes Kate a unique personality in mystery fiction. But she also has friends-half the people on the tribal grounds are relatives and many of the others are good friends. They add more unique flavor to this mystery. Kate is called in to find a friend who went missing while searching for a congressman's son who is missing. During the investigations, all of these unique personalities come together along with plenty of other local flavoring. Dana Stabenow has created a compelling, sympathetic series family. I hope to see a lot more of Stabenow and Shugak.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Award-Winning Mystery Set In Alaska's Frozen North Country., September 19, 2005
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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 mystery series!
JANA
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Story But Senseless Profanity, April 24, 2012
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This review is from: A Cold Day for Murder (Kate Shugak Novels Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Hey folks,

This is the second or third Stabenow book I have read, and while I did like the story, I get turned off by what seems to be senseless profanity. Another reviewer compared Stabenow to Hillerman, and I see a similarity with both authors providing interesting cultural information. I have a problem with Stabenow's use of profanity, however. Yes, Hillerman did use the occasional "Hell" or "damn," and I think he even used "God Damn" in one instance, but his use of profanity was coparitively rare. When Hillerman did use his occasional "milder" profanities, they did seem to fit in place and were used as supporting words rather than dominant word use. My problems with what I term "senseless profanity" has nothing to do with religious beliefs - I am not a religious person. My problem is that such profanity too often ruins a good story by making it boring. Profanity may on occasion add to the story, but when its use seems to overpower the story itself, the story becomes lost. Just keep it simple and tell me a good story.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile
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107 of 137 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Too Profane, February 4, 2012
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This review is from: A Cold Day for Murder (Kate Shugak Novels Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I guess when an author doesn't have enough content, she (or he) supplements the story with lots of foul language. Call me a prude (whatever) but I don't care for the use of profanity, and that was just in the first 30 minutes of reading--from the f*** word to using 'Jesus Christ' as profanity. I didn't pay anything for this Kindle version, and I removed it from the device almost immediately. There are better books with more mystery and no expletives that are worth the time to read, but not this one.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Mystery Based on Native American Culture, August 2, 2001
By A Customer
In A Cold Day For Murder Dana Stabenow's portrayal of Kate Shugak as a strong, sad, solitary woman, willing to help anyone in need, captures the reader's heart. Intertwined with the disappearance of the park ranger, who Kate sets out to find, is the plight of Native Americans struggling to hold on to their traditions while faced with changes forced on them by government regulations. I look forward to reading the other books in this series to see how Kate evolves as she takes on other cases.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Alaskan cultural challenge, January 2, 2013
By 
Suncoast "Suncoast" (Sunshine Coast, Australia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: A Cold Day for Murder (Kate Shugak Novels Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Dana Stabenow's first book in the Kate Shugak series is not only an interesting detective novel, but being set in a small remote mainly native Alaskan settlement is also a cultural challenge. Even if you have visited Alaska with a summer tour or cruise you will not be prepared for the cultural background that permeates Stabenow's book:

* most people are native Alaskan (Aleuts) and live inside the Nilintna Association's tribal jurisdiction. Persons who are not part of the tribe are called "Outsiders".
* while the Association has declared their jurisdiction to be alcohol free, many locals frequent a roadhouse conveniently located exactly nine feet three inches outside the jurisdiction.
* there is no road into the area and for most of the year the locals' means of travel are snow mobiles, dog slays and small planes.
* local food delicacies include ground caribou patties and moose steaks. Local radio station advertising fees can sometimes be paid in moose meat ("five roasts, not less than five pounds each").
* there is a very small population and everybody knows one another which unfortunately is a hindrance to any investigation.

All of this makes this a very different detective novel to others I have read. Kate Shugak was born in the jurisdiction but left the area for several years for study and work as an investigator for the DA's office in Anchorage. She has retreated back to her home environment after she was wounded when a case went seriously wrong. She is surprised when her former boss visits her with an FBI agent to ask her to investigate the disappearance of an "outsider" Park Ranger and an investigator sent to find what happened to him.

When she reluctantly agrees to help, she has to find the answer within her own tight community who are not known for their ready cooperation with authority.

My main criticism is that it takes a bit of effort to understand the various cultural issues and to follow the many different, and sometimes only minor, characters. Despite this the book was a fascinating start to a pretty lengthy series of Kate Shugak investigations which I understand has a bit of a cult following. I enjoyed the book and will probably read more in the series.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thin Plot, but Quick Enjoyable Read, June 21, 2011
A park ranger goes missing in the interior of Alaska. Then, the investigator who is sent in search of him also goes missing. The Anchorage District Attorney's office turns to former investigator Kate Shugak, a woman haunted by her own demons, to search for them.

Overall, A Cold Day for Murder is a quick and enjoyable read. Stabenow does an especially good job of sketching the main characters, particularly Kate, Jim, and some of Kate's extended family members who turn out to be involved in the investigation. Kate is well done as a complex character battling the memories and nightmares of the tragedy of her last investigation for the DA's office. The character development of several of the characters is probably 4 star, reaching toward 5 star, in quality for Stabenow does a really good job of developing the complexities of those like Kate Shugak, who balance between the two worlds of her Native Alaskan heritage and Outsider (anyone who is not Native Inuit).

While an enjoyable read overall, the star rating falls to three star simply because the plot line is so transparent in places that it is far to easy to foresee what happened to the park ranger and who might have been behind his disappearance far too early in the book. Despite this transparency, however, the first book of the series was enjoyable enough that I will most likely pick up the next book in the series and give it a shot as well.

I must admit that part of what drew me to this book, and thus to this series, is that I spent part of my childhood in Alaska. My father was a military man who was stationed in Alaska twice (once before I was born, and once after), so as I was reading, I kept wondering if I would recognize any of the places being described. While I glimpsed a few, especially Anchorage and Denali National Park, the book made me well aware that there is still much of Alaska that is unknown to me even after having spent a chunk of my childhood there. Additionally, the book quickly stirred the desire I have long had to go back for an extended visit/vacation.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars quit reading when it got to the porn, May 19, 2013
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This review is from: A Cold Day for Murder (Kate Shugak Novels Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
seemed interesting, something to pass the time- until i got to the soft porn section - ruined the plot and book for me
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