cover image A Cold-Blooded Business

A Cold-Blooded Business

Dana Stabenow. Berkley Publishing Group, $17.95 (231pp) ISBN 978-0-425-14173-1

Stabenow's hardcover debut marks the fourth outing for Kate Shugak (last seen in Dead in the Water ), a native Aleut who is building a solid reputation as a tough freelance investigator. Although Kate has no love for the oil companies drilling in Alaska, she accepts a commission from Royal Petroleum Co. to find out who is bringing drugs into the Prudhoe Bay work site where there have been several overdoses and one death. Over the objections of RPetCo's security chief, Lou Childress, Kate goes in as an employee, getting a good look at her surroundings as a driver for Toni Hartzler, who gives PR tours to visiting dignitaries. She gains an instant ``in'' with the locals when she encounters Jerry McIsaac, an old acquaintance who works there as a medic. Kate spots plenty of drugs at her first party but doesn't observe anyone dealing. Of equal interest to her are the Native American artifacts being unearthed by archeologists at a local dig. While Kate is getting caught up in artifacts, she fails to notice that the dealers themselves are playing sleuth, putting her in danger. Throughout, Stabenow makes effective use of the regional setting, culture and Kate's personal heritage to add depth and color to this brisk and thoughtful tale. Mystery Guild alternate. (Mar.)