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R. T. Lund
A Climate for Death
R. T. Lund, author

Adult; Mystery/Thriller; (Market)

The story begins with a plane crash on a snow-covered precipice above the icy shores of Lake Superior. There’s a dead pilot on board, but three VIP passengers are missing. A deadly snowmobile accident, an upstart candidate for Congress, and alarming discoveries in Isle Royale National Park add to the challenges confronting local sheriff Sam McDonald and a diverse cast of characters during one of the coldest winters on record. As the publisher notes, “. . .the solitude of the North Shore is disrupted by events that could have national and international repercussions. The weather is just one of the circumstances that create a climate for death.”
A plane crash, a snowmobile accident, and the coldest Minnesota winter in years are the raw materials for an intricately woven, character-driven detective novel with a big cast. From the moment the plane crash is reported, Sheriff Sam MacDonald faces a complex mystery: Only the dead pilot, with a bullet in his head, is at the crash site, while the flight’s three passengers have gone missing. MacDonald must also piece together the events that led up to a snowmobile accident involving a philanthropist and the young woman college student who appears to be his escort. Dirty dealings and the secrets of ego-driven rich men swirl at the center of the drama.

Lund excels at sketching compelling portraits of his thriller’s sprawling cast, such as Kelly Ann Kinnear, a park ranger with a “fondness for frequent and diverse sexual encounters,” and Special Agent Lance Whitney, a “self-described body builder whose ego was more inflated than his biceps.” As he surveys Lake Superior’s secrets, though, Lund doesn’t always develop his people. His interest in local color, and his dedication to capturing the essence of his North Shore milieu, at times slows the narrative momentum, as A Climate for Death touches on political campaigns, climate change, intelligence agencies, the machinations of energy companies, and the tragic fate of Isle Royale’s wolf population. Lund knows his region cold and takes great pains to reveal it.

The novel builds to a satisfying ending that justifies the title, complete with a whiff of noir fatalism. Still, that large cast and the story’s wide sweep may prove demanding for readers who don’t relish keeping a pen and pad on hand to keep dates, characters, and events straight. Fans of twisty, complex thrillers with a chill in their bones and an interest in how political power shapes our lives and our world should find this title to their liking.

Takeaway: Crime thriller fans will enjoy the intricately woven mystery wrapped in a vastly diverse cast of characters.

Great for fans of: Lin Enger’s Undiscovered Country, William Kent Krueger’s Thunder Bay

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A