A Fine and Bitter Snow

A Fine and Bitter Snow

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ISBN 0-312-20548-1

I was completing this book on 9/11. It was very difficult to be deliberately entertaining about murder following those events. It’s a good book, I think, with a decent plot and some very nicely drawn characters (I sez it who shouldn’t), and I like the way Kate’s relationship with Jim progresses, but I’m always going to wonder how it would have turned out had there been no falling towers.

About the Dedication

Rich Henshaw is my agent. I’ve had three agents, fired two, and the third has worked like a charm.

I got him this way:

Berkley offered me a three-book contract. I panicked and called Greg Bear, whom I had met one time at a party at a friend’s house in Seattle. He listened with infinite patience to this virtual stranger having hysterics and when I ran down said in that voice-of-doom/voice-of-god voice he’s got going on, “Dana. You need an agent. Call Richard Curtis. Now.”

So I did, and got Rich on the phone. He was handling mysteries for RCA at that time. I overnighted him the book, he called and said, “I read it. I loved it!” You could tell by the grin in his voice that he knew what it meant to a writer to hear that from a New York agent. So I signed with RCA, and when Rich went out on his own a couple of years later I went with him.

He also likes good wine, and he shares.

Book Excerpt

Kate mounted her snow machine with Mutt leaping up to the seat behind, roared twenty-five miles over unplowed road to Niniltna, four miles past the village to the ghost town of Kanuyaq, and up the rutted, icy path to the Step, where she dismounted, postholed through the snow to the door of the Park Service’s headquarters, marched down the hall to Dan O’Brian’s office, walked in without knocking, sat down without invitation, and said, “Now then. Would you mind repeating to me exactly what you told Ethan Int-Hout in this office this morning?”

“Hi, Kate,” Dan said, the startled look fading from his face. “Nice to see you, too.”

Mutt barked, one syllable, short, sharp, demanding. “All right already, nice to see you, too.” He pulled open a drawer, extracted a slice of moose jerky, and tossed it. Mutt caught it on the fly, and lay down, marginally appeased.

Kate was anything but. “Well?”

“I’m too green for them, Kate.”

Kate’s spine was very straight and very stiff. “Too green for whom, exactly?”

“The new administration.” Dan waved a hand at the map of Alaska on the wall behind him. “They want to drill in ANWR. I’m on record as not thinking it’s the best idea the federal government ever had, and now everyone’s mad at me, from City Hall in Kaktovik to the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. You should see some of the emails I’ve been getting. Like to melt down the computer.” He ran a hand through a thick thatch of stiff red hair that was beginning to recede ever so slightly at his temples, and then rubbed both hands over a square face with open blue eyes and a lot of freckles that refused to fade. “I’ve never wanted to be anything but what I am, a park ranger in Alaska. But hell, I don’t know. The secretary won’t even listen to her own employees. They want to drill. And they’re looking at Iqaluk, too.”

“I beg your pardon?” Her voice had gone very soft, marred only by the growling sound caused by the scar on her throat, but Mutt stopped chewing and pricked up her very tall gray ears and fixed Kate with wide yellow eyes.

He flapped a hand. “Nothing to get worried about, at least not yet.”

“I’m always worried about Iqaluk,” Kate said.

“I know.”

“So you’ve been fired?”

He made a wry mouth. “Not exactly. Invited to take early retirement, is more like it.” He sighed. “I don’t know, Kate. At least Clinton and Gore had a clue about the environment, or pretended they did. This guy, jesus.” He thrust his chair back and stood up to wander over to the window to stare at the snow piled up to the top of the frame. “I don’t know,” he said, turning back. “Maybe it’s time. I don’t know that I can work with these people for four years, and maybe eight. I’ve got twenty-three years in. Maybe I need to move on, buy myself a little cabin on a couple acres, find me one of your cousins, settle in, settle down.”

“Yeah, and maybe I need to shoot myself in the head,” Kate said, “but it might kill me, so I guess I won’t.”

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