St. Martin's, June 2002, 24.95, 244 pp.
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.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner