Dana Stabenow Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Dana Stabenow won critical and commercial success with her first mystery novel, A Cold Day for Murder (1992), which won the 1993 Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America for best original paperback. The novel was innovative in two ways. First, it is set in Alaska, which is almost a character in its own right and, as Jack London showed, is almost creative in the many ways its environment can kill people. Although Stabenow is not the first mystery writer to use Alaska as a setting, she is the most popular of a new group of Alaska-based mystery writers, the first of whom was Sean Hanlon, who published The Cold Front in 1989.

Second, the main character, Kate Shugak, is both a female detective and a Native American. Neither concept is original. Female detectives are at least as old as Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, and there were Native American detectives even before Tony Hillerman began to write his many books featuring Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn and Sergeant Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police. Along with Jean Hager and her Molly Bearpaw series, Stabenow is one of the first mystery writers to combine the two groups into one detective.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Dahlin, Robert. “Movable Authors, Stationary Backlist.” Publishers Weekly 245, no. 42. (October 19, 1998): 39. Discusses Stabenow’s move from Putnam to St. Martin’s Press.

Doran, Leslie. “Dana Doubles the Trouble: Stabenow Busy with Two Series.” Denver Post, December 12, 2004, p. F12. Profile of Stabenow looks at how she juggles writing two series, her Web site, her writing process, and changes in the series content.

La Plante, Jane. Review of The Singing of the Dead, by Dana Stabenow. Library Journal 126, no. 8 (May 1, 2001): 132. This review praises the novel, in which Kate protects senatorial candidate Anne Gordaoff, for including a debate about fishing and hunting rights without going overboard and criticizes the novel for its predictability and lack of suspense.

Lindsay, Elizabeth Blakesley. Great Women Mystery Writers. 2d ed. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2007. Contains an entry on Stabenow that examines her life and writings.

Lindsey, Beth. Review of Blindfold Game, by Dana Stabenow. Library Journal 131, no. 1 (January, 2006): 102-103. This review praises Stabenow for her skill in evoking a setting, strong characterization, and ability to create suspense in this thriller about Asian terrorists.

O’Brien, Sue. Review of A Deeper Sleep, by Dana Stabenow. Booklist 103, no. 4 (October 15, 2006): 33. Review of a Kate Shugak novel in which she is determined to find evidence to convict Louis Deem, a dangerous local man. Reviewer praises the plot and characterization as well as the descriptions of the Alaskan wilderness and Native American customs.

Stabenow, Dana. The Official Dana Stabenow Web Site. http://www.stabenow.com. The author’s official Web site contains information about her books, upcoming works, blogs, and links for fans.