A Cold Day for Murder

Dana Stabenow, Author Berkley $6.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-425-13301-9

This whodunit rides the crest of today's styles: a female detective, a remote locale and the conflict between the traditional way of life (in this case Aleut) and modern America. Detective Kate Shugak became the top investigator for the Anchorage District Attorney's Office. But after getting her throat cut while apprehending a child abuser, she has retired to the Park, 20 million acres of Alaskan wilderness, snow and eccentrics--yet the children's cries keep reverberating in her head. When a park ranger--a congressman's son--disappears, as does the investigator sent after him, the FBI and Shugak's old boss ask for her help. In the process Shugak gets shot at twice and readers get a guided tour of the local landmarks, including Shugak's manipulative grandmother's house in Niniltna (pop. 800) and Bernie's Roadhouse, site of a hilarious showdown between two drunken pipeline workers with a stolen 30-ton excavating machine and a helicopter-flying state trooper. Stabenow's ( Second Star ) tale lacks tension, and Shugak's unfocused anger at the world seems a bit forced, but overall this is an enjoyable and well-written yarn. (June)