WARNING: Spoilers spoken here.
1. Game Bag
At first I was thinking a moose, because Abel hides the body in a game bag and Kate naturally mistakes it for a haunch of moose because what else would be in there? Then later, Kate thinks Martin killed Ken Dahl because Axenia hears Martin throwing something heavy into the creek, but it turns out it was a moose he hit and killed and he doesn’t want to get caught with it in the back of his pickup. Lastly there is that scene where Kate and Jack are driving out to the Lost Wife Mine and find a wolverine chewing on a downed moose calf. I’d call that a theme.
But Kate has close encounters with moose throughout the Kate Shugak series, including that time at the beginning of Blood Will Tell when she gets her annual moose in her own front yard. The moose in Alaska is so ubiquitous it should be the Alaska state mammal. Oh wait, look, it is. I wanted an object more specific to A Cold Day for Murder, and something significant to the mystery itself. I wanted (yes, I’m going to say it) —
— a clue.
That is one honking big clue there in Abel’s front yard. It’s the first thing Kate sees when she leaves her homestead for the first time back on the job in eighteen months, and it’s what closes the case for her when she finally connects all the dots. It’s just extra that a game bag is iconic Alaskana in and of itself.
So then I had to go on an image hunt. If you google “game bags” you get over 114 million hits. Click on “Images” and you can scroll down forever. Game bags are available everywhere, even on Amazon, but Cabela’s won the image race because they had a picture of a guy holding one up so the non-hunters among you could get an idea of size.
But that looks a little pristine. I googled some more and found a picture of game bags in actual use.
Well? What else would be in there?
The 22nd Kate Shugak novel, coming January 9, 2020.
Author and founder of Storyknife.org.