Alaska: land of adventure and murder

Currently on Loan from the Library:

13 ½ by Nevada Barr
A Fine and Bitter Snow by Dana Stabenow
Hunter’s Moon by Dana Stabenow
Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner
Cinderella Ate my Daughter by Peggy Orenstein

Other Books I’m Reading:

The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough
Unholy Dying by Robert Barnard (Which by the way is not a fiber arts book.  Although, I could see how a person would think that. Even if there is a missing “e”.)

I decided to read both of the Dana Stabenow books I checked out back to back.  She was recommended by a friend, and I wanted to get a sense of her writing framework.  As is often the case with me, I managed to pick up two books that contained major life changes for the main character, and read them in reverse order.  Timeline? Ha!  I am glad to report that my prior knowledge of how Hunter Moon had to end for Kate Shugak, did not diminish my reading enjoyment.  

There is sort of a traditional mystery/thriller framework out there.  A murder on page one, an arrest three pages from the end, and an investigation in-between.  Dana Stabenow tosses this right out the window, and it works for her.  I admit, I was a little worried around page fifty of A Fine and Bitter Snow when there was no body yet, and no other mystery apparent.  Then, suddenly, right in the middle of the very enjoyable book I was reading about the histories and relationships of people in small town Alaska, there was a murder.  The ending of  A Fine and Bitter Snow, is a bit out of left field.  Let’s say the supporting evidence would not have been enough to convict the murderer without a confession.  Still, a very satisfying read.  

Then I moved on to Hunter’s Moon, which contains a full hundred pages of mucking around in the wilderness with guns, moose, bears, and blueberries before anyone gets dead.  In Hunter’s Moon, it’s at least plain that someone is probably going to get shot well before the actual death.  That first death is like the starting flag at Daytona.  What follows is one hundred and fifty pages of the highest murder to page ratio writing I’ve ever read.  Also feats of strength,  and two very very very crazy people.  Who could ask for anything more?   

There are a few scenes of corporeal exuberance in these books.  They don’t detract from the writing, in that they fit the nature of the characters and the circumstances.  Also, the scenes are rather well done, giving you enough information, but not too much.  Missing by a wide margin the pause here for a porno break scenes in many other books of this kind.  If you happen to object to that sort of thing, they are easy enough to skip.  

These books have pretty much convinced me that the Alaskan Bush is no place for me to live.  I’m not really a skin a moose run through the forest with a gun sort of a girl.  Still, fun to read about.  Maybe even educational.  

Enjoyability:   Both A Fine and Bitter Snow, and Hunter’s Moon get a good solid four stars.  

Where to read this book:  Since Stabenow’s covers do not tend toward the lurid, absolutely take them to the coffee shop with you.  They probably won’t help you meet that cute guy at the table across the room, but you may strike up a conversation with a fellow reader over them.  

Further reading: I will definitely be picking up more Dana Stabenow books.  Maybe not right away.  But she has a well deserved place on the Watch List from here on out. 


Posted on May 24, 2011, in Fiction, review. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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