A FATAL THAW by Dana Stabenow

fatal thawOne of my favorite authors, not the least of which reasons is that she writes some darn good hard sci fi starring a female cosmonaut.   But this is not sci fi, this book is one of her Kate Shugak mystery series, set in an unnamed national Park in Alaska.  Kate is a former investigator for the Fairbanks police department who was nearly killed during a drug bust. The near fatal injury has left her with a raspy voice and a very noticeable scar on her neck. After this incident she “retired” to her homestead in the wilderness of Alaska.

She is called on to investigate when a nutjob gunned down nine of her neighbors in a shooting spree.  But it turns out that one, the village hoochie koochie girl, the one who never saw a man she didn’t like or didn’t bed, single or not, was actually killed by a different bullet.  Since the spree killer was apprehended alive, it is Kate’s job to find out who killed that one woman.

That turned out to be a pretty good mystery, although in spite of my usual poor showing in guessing who dunnit, this time I actually was not ‘clueless’.

Nice character development, and a lot of interesting stuff about the local …. oh, what is the politically correct word …. Indigenous People?  Inuit?  Aleut?  Native Americans?  First People?  …. who make up the bulk of the population there, and their traditions and customs.  There is also some beautiful descriptions of the scenery.   When I was much younger, (um, that would be last year), I used to blitz through descriptive passages, eager to get on with the story.  But now, in my twilight hours, I find I am enjoying those kinds of passages more and more, as it becomes more evident I probably won’t be seeing that scenery for myself.

This world we live in is huge — even fiction can be a lovely way to see some of it.

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