Kate Shugak (A Fine and Bitter Snow, 2002, etc.) gets handed a cold one: Len Dreyer’s body, frozen beneath a glacier, with a shotgun hole in its chest.
Teenagers find the corpse while on a spring field trip to Grant Glacier. Since nobody remembers seeing the ubiquitous handyman since October, and State Trooper Jim Chopin is overwhelmed with hotter cases, he asks Kate to investigate but soon regrets getting her involved. After she begins inquiries, someone burns down the cabin her father built by hand and narrowly misses incinerating her and her ward, 14-year-old Johnny Morgan. To keep her safe, Jim fires her. Kate, bound on revenge, ignores him. Chopin then gets more help he doesn’t want: Dandy Mike, the tribal chief’s son, wants to be Jim’s deputy, so he makes the rounds of ex-girlfriends, asking nosy questions about Dreyer. Between them, Kate and Dandy discover only that Len was an excellent handyman on a cash-only basis who occasionally allowed lustful women to wrestle him to the ground but showed little interest on his own. In Alaska, such frigidity amounts to suspicious behavior—until Kate discovers a more compelling reason for putting him in the deep freeze. This time, however, she’s hot on the trail of a red herring while the real shark silently pursues her.
A satisfying case for Kate and her friends, although alert readers will spot the villain before they do.