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by Ed Ifkovic
Poisoned Pen Press, February 2019
424 pages
ISBN: 1464211132

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

RUN COLD is Ed Ifkovic's 10th and final Edna Ferber Mystery. It has been quite a run and RUN COLD, set in Alaska, is the perfect conclusion to this extremely popular fictional fiction writer's journey through America with famous and not so famous characters by her side.

Published in 1958, ICE PALACE was Ferber's book about Alaskan statehood, which was achieved shortly after publication. As always, our fictional heroine encounters murders, three this time, and a murder suspect Edna likes and believes did not do it, this time an Athabascan lawyer and war hero named Noah West.

Three murders - first there are the two old sourdoughs, Jack Mabie, who claims he is the meanest man in Alaska, in his 70s, a drunkard and stroke victim who still drags his body and his story from bar to bar in Fairbanks. Second is Sam Pilot, cousin to Noah, sometime buddy of Jack, who deep down is an Indian-hater at heart.

When Jack meets his end, of course, Sam is the most likely suspect, but when Sam also turns up dead, and then there is a third murder, this time Sonia, a young white woman whose family came over from Russia several generations ago and made good, all Fairbanks is astir. This murder matters.

It matters especially to Edna, who has become a good friend of the young woman and her boyfriend Noah West, a white hat kind of cowboy who is actually an Indian.

Hence his being a suspect.

It is up to Edna to begin to examine the suspects, eliminating them one at a time. There is some mystery that Sonia had discovered that seems to link her to the two earlier murders. But what is it?

Between wonderful meals deliciously described (Edna loves to eat), Edna and Noah begin to unravel a brutal story that happened back in the early days of Alaskan development, a man murdered in front of his family, in a town above the Arctic Circle in Indian territory, by the meanest man in Alaska.

In the dénouement, like an Agatha Christie novel, all the characters are in the lobby of the local hotel while Edna and Noah unravel the mystery, calling forth the murderer for whom revenge is so sweet that he is ready to hang for it.

I am sorry to say goodbye to Edna, now in her 70s but still waspish in her comments and very observant of all that she sees. RUN COLD is a lovely testament to a real-life novelist who chronicled some of the turning points in the America of the 20th century.

This is a series to read from start to finish!

§ Susan Hoover is a playwright, independent producer and retired college English teacher. She lives in Nova Scotia.

Reviewed by Susan Hoover, February 2019

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