First Line:The air terminal at Inuvik has comfortable chairs and some nice Arctic art on the walls and usually a lot more empty space than passengers, so it is not exactly O'Hare, but it's not Tuktoyaktuk either.
Inspector Matthew "Matteesie" Kitologitak of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is one of the few Inuit officers to make it past the "token" level. For quite some time, he's been on loan to the deputy minister of Northern Affairs in the Canadian government, so it comes as a bit of a surprise when his old RCMP superior manages to get him back so Matteesie can investigate the disappearance of a small plane suspected of carrying members of a drug ring.
Matteesie hasn't even had a chance to investigate when he witnesses the murder of a very powerful local man. While going through the cast of characters, he spots a connection between the two cases, and it boils down to locating the suspects and gathering the evidence.
For me, the first person narrative didn't quite work in this book. Although Matteesie was an excellent guide through the Arctic landscape and very good at describing the other characters, he kept me at a distance, and I never really felt as though I got to know him.
The mysteries of the missing plane and the murdered man weren't particularly suspenseful, but their solutions kept me guessing until almost the end.
The star of this book is the Arctic landscape and how to survive out in it. Matteesie traveled by snowmobile, dog sled and bush plane through a frigid and alien landscape. While he traveled, I learned why old-timers prefer dog sleds to snowmobiles (if the snowmobile breaks down and you're stuck and starving, you can't skin and eat a snowmobile), just what survival gear is mandatory for any sort of travel, and that it's wise to leave your vehicle running in the Arctic cold. If you switch off the ignition, the vehicle may never start again. That's just the tip of the iceberg for all the things I learned.
In reading Murder in a Cold Climate, the author's love of the landscape came through loud and clear, but the story and the characters were not as strong as the setting.
Inuit RCMP officer solves a mystery.
#1 of a series set in the Northwest Territories of Canada, featuring Matthew "Matteesie" Kitologitak, an Inuk (singular of Inuit) Inspector for the RCMP. Actually, he's been primarily working for Northern Affairs, not doing much police work but attending conferences living mostly in Toronto. We know from the get-go that Matteesie is not your everyday hero--the opening pages see him with his long-time mistress in the northern town of Inuvik, waiting to fly out to Leningrad for a conference. (His wife, a white woman, is back in Toronto.) He's also not your typical burly-brawny tough guy--at 5'6" with a brown, round face, he doesn't exactly scare many folks, even bundled up in his parka.
His RCMP boss, Buster, calls and asks him to look into something for him as a favor (it's been several years since he did any police work)--the disappearance of a small plane that had a well-known government official's son as the pilot. Meanwhile though, a murder happens right in front of Matteesie and he feels his inspector's instincts kick into gear as he puts that incident first--and of course after digging a bit, figures the two incidents are actually connected. Off he goes across the wild northern wilderness trying to track down a killer and find the connection to the missing plane.
This book provided a great sense of place and a immersion into a culture that I didn't know all that much about. The author brought home in a very real way just how isolated things are up near the Arctic Circle, and how things most of us 'down here' (and even in southern Canada) take for granted--including the usual police procedures--which just aren't the same there. I liked Matteesie but the story itself was kind of all over the place, especially at first; it was hard to keep people and places straight in part because of the strange names, and it wasn't until the middle third of the book that I finally started 'getting' it enough so that the storyline made more sense. All in all, though, an enjoyable book and I will at some point continue reading on if I can lay hands on the second in the series.