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A Fine and Bitter Snow: A Kate Shugak Novel (Kate Shugak Novels) Mass Market Paperback – July 13, 2003

4.3 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews
Book 12 of 21 in the Kate Shugak Novels Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This is the 12th in a series (after 2001's The Singing of the Dead) that truly evolves rather than simply revisiting the same setting, although that setting is a doozy: an austere and beautiful Alaskan outback, populated with eccentrics and wild creatures. Kate Shugak could be considered a little of both, having grown up in this hinterland and being fond of her own ways. Kate discovers that park ranger Dan O'Brian is about to lose his job, probably because he is against drilling for oil in the local wildlife preserve. In an effort to garner support for Dan, Kate calls on her late grandmother's dear friends, Ruthe and Dina, who together taught Kate the name of every living thing in the park when she was a child. This longtime couple sits on a big chunk of pristine wilderness and works hard to protect other areas. Meanwhile, Dan has fallen for Christie Turner, the new waitress at the Roadhouse, and state trooper Jim Chopin, a notorious womanizer, is focused on the one woman who won't give him the time of day Kate. She isn't ready for a new relationship, as she is still mourning her dead lover, Jack Morgan, and trying to provide a stable environment for his teenage son, Johnny. When Dina is killed and Ruthe is put on the critical list at the hospital, Kate scrambles to solve the crime while keeping a balance in the rest of her life. Along the way, she finds herself in a brief but torrid encounter with Jim. Rich with details about life in this snowbound culture, the story moves at a steady pace to a classic ending.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The well-known Alaskan P.I. finds herself in the middle of a volatile situation involving proposed drilling for oil in a wildlife preserve. A ranger there is fired for political reasons, and then an important conservationist is poisoned. Be sure to have this on hand.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Kate Shugak Novels (Book 12)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1st edition (July 13, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312989474
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312989477
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #623,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dana Stabenow was born in Anchorage and raised on 75-foot fish tender in the Gulf of Alaska. She knew there was a warmer, drier job out there somewhere and found it in writing.

Her first science fiction novel, Second Star, sank without a trace (but has since been resurrected as an e-book), her first crime fiction novel, A Cold Day for Murder, won an Edgar award, her first thriller, Blindfold Game, hit the New York Times bestseller list, and her twenty-eighth novel and nineteenth Kate Shugak novel, Restless in the Grave, was published February 14, 2012.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on July 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover
With each book, Dana Stabenow has gotten better and better. She has a strong voice and writes beautifully about Alaska, a state she obviously loves. She creates compelling characters and writes great action scenes. So I was really disappointed with this, her latest installment in the Kate Shugak series. In fact, I was so disappointed that I checked her website to see what was going on. It turns out that the author was required by contract to produce a book that had her writing much of it just when, like many of us, she got bogged down in a September 11th depression. All I can say is, too bad her publisher didn't give her more time.
At only 304 pages, the book is way too short (and not coincidentally it's list price is way too high). The author seemed to be treading water through most of the story and the murder mystery seemed to be added as an afterthought. Too much of the story was spent with various people describing others (including the murder victim) as outrageous characters. By the end, you don't care about the murder victim, the murderer, or the soap opera-worthy reason for the murder. This is not Ms. Stabenow's best book. If you're new to the series, read an earlier installment. If you just want to keep up with Kate, read this one and hope that Ms. Stabenow gets back in the game with her next book.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the 12th in the Kate Shugak series of mysteries set in Alaska. In this outing, Kate is back in the Park, winter is upon them, and she is beginning to emerge from her self-imposed cocoon. When two of the park's long-time residents are killed, she teams up with state trooper Jim Chopin to find the killer
I've been a big fan of Dana Stabenow since her first Kate Shugak mystery, A Cold Day for Murder. This is not one of her best. There's too much description and not enough action. There's not much plot - what there is takes place in the last 60 pages of the book.
It's more of a series transition - moving Kate from mourning Jack to a new relationship. It is as if the author had to meet a deadline for a book and this was the result. Stabenow's heart didn't seem to be in this book. I'm hoping that this really is a transition, and not the beginning of the end. I hope Stabenow will be back in form in the next Kate Shugak book.
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Format: Hardcover
When bureaucrats try to force park ranger Dan O'Brian into early retirement, Kate Shugak springs into action, chatting up the locals with political influence to save Dan's job. It doesn't help, though, when Dan is found crouched over a recently murdered body. Kate is certain that Dan is innocent, but she isn't convinced that the crazy Viet Nam vet turned up as an alternate suspect was the killer either. Still, what possible motive could anyone have for killing an aging World War II WASP? Kate insists on looking--alongside too-sexy cop Jim Chopin.
Since the death of her lover, Kate has been trying to get her personal life under control. She isn't sure of much, but she is certain that she doesn't want to be the next notch on Jim's belt. Still, Jim seems anxious to allow Kate to tag along as he investigates increasingly unlikely suspects. Kate is sure they haven't found the killer--but she's also certain that everyone has secrets. And, as Jim points out, no secrets can survive a murder investigation.
Author Dana Stabenow writes convincingly of the Alaska wilds--where 'up the road' means a 70 mile haul and where the only way to stay in touch is by plane. When the close-knit community is shattered by murder, the residents want to pull together and are all to anxious to deny the possibility that the murder might be one of them. Kate's angst over her lost lover adds emotional depth to her character as does her long history with the victim.
A FINE AND BITTER SNOW is enjoyable reading, but has a few holes. I would have liked to see a little more motivation for Jim to invite Kate along on the investigation--surely sexual desire wouldn't be enough to allow him to drag her along in that way.
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Format: Hardcover
Dana Stabenow, lifelong Alaska resident, has important things to say about the preservation of the environment. And she says them while spinning a good murder mystery. The new Old-Boy Oil Administration in Washington wants to drill for oil in ANWR and they're dumping the long-time Park Ranger who may disagree with their agenda. An environmentalist is killed, her friend critically injured, and Kate Shugak and her endearing wolf/dog Mutt are on the case. Meanwhile, Kate's personal life is sloping towards a seismic shift. Hang on, folks, we're in for a bumpy ride!
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By A Customer on June 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Now that the Republicans are back in the White House, there is an intense interest in exploring the Alaskan wilderness for oil reserves. The natives of the state are torn between the need for new jobs and preserving the beauty of their untamed land. Chief park ranger Dan O'Brien is on the record for wanting to preserve the environment and as a result was asked by his superiors to take an early retirement.

Kate Shugak, a homesteader in the Park, is rallying the people to save Dan's job. When two elderly radical conservationists that Kate spoke to about the problem are found dead, Alaska state trooper Jim Chopin arrests a Vietnam vet, covered in blood and holding the murder weapon. Although it looks like an open and shut case, both Kate and Jim find that things seem too pat and decide to investigate, a decision that puts Kate in deadly danger.

Although A FINE AND BITTER SNOW is a great mystery, the author puts more emphasis on the strange but very real courtship of Kate and Jim. Kate's efforts to avoid Jim and his honest bewilderment about his feelings for the prickly investigator make for some funny episodes. As always, Dana Stabenow brings the beauty and the danger of the Alaskan frontier alive, but also provides insight into the oil rigging environmental controversy This exciting novel will leave readers excited yet bushed from a wonderful reading experience.

Harriet Klausner
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