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Saturday, 13 April 2013

Review: Murder in a Cold Climate, Scott Young (Canada, Northwest Terrorities)

Title: Murder in a Cold Climate
Author: Scott Young
Publication: 1988/Random House of Canada, Toronto
ISBN #: 0-449-21746-9
# of pages: 238
Discovered when cleaning out my bookshelves
Read in paper format

Canadian Mountie Matteesie “Matthew” Kitologitak is suddenly very busy. Seconded to the Department of Northern Affairs and currently in Inuvik, he is preparing for an exciting trip to Leningrad for a meeting of northern countries. The RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) commissioner is on the phone though, asking a favour. Before he leaves, would he please look into a missing plane piloted by the son of the finance minister? As an Inuk who has lived most of his life in the Northwest Territories, he knows the region well and figures this will only take him a few days.
He boards the next plane to Norman Wells. One of the other passengers is Morton Cavendish, notable local power broker, who has suffered a stroke and is being transported to Edmonton for treatment. The plane’s first stop an hour later is Norman Wells and before Kitologitak can disembark, a gunman has boarded and shot Cavendish three times before escaping on a waiting snowmobile. Kitologitak is more interested in solving this murder than finding the missing plane, and he just has to figure out how to do both while ignoring his boss’s order to leave the murder to the local detachment.

As a story about the Canadian Arctic, this is a very interesting book. The characters of the north, the outdoor survival tactics, the scenes of travelling by dog team and snowmobile all bring the North to life. However, for me, the voice of Kitologitak the Inuk did not ring true. It sounded more like what a white person would expect an Inuk to think.  I also did not find the mystery particularly engaging. If you are interested in the Canadian Arctic, add it to your reading pile.            Rating:    (-_°)  
Notable sentence: George No Legs discussing what animals he’s trapped: “You get out here with no legs and a 150-pound wolf stuck in a trap, you might just wish you was back in town, drawin’ welfare.”

Author Scott Young was a Canadian journalist and sportswriter for many years. He wrote a number of short stories, books of fiction (including a second book about Kitologitak, “The Shaman’s Knife”) and nonfiction. One of the latter was “Neil and Me”, about his famous musician son Neil Young. Scott Young died in 2005 at the age of 87.


  1. Debra: Thanks for mentioning my blog. I regret you did not enjoy the book more. I thought it a good book and am keeping an eye out for the second book.

  2. I too might try the second one. I liked Matteesie and the atmosphere.