Borrowing Death by Cathy Pegau

borrowing-deathBorrowing Death by Cathy Pegau
Series: Charlotte Brody Mystery #2
Genre: Historical Mystery
Setting: Cordova, Alaska Territory, 1919
Published by Kensington
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: June 28, 2016)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
210 pages
Grade: B-
Synopsis: Suffragette and journalist Charlotte Brody is bracing herself for her first winter in the frontier town of Cordova in the Alaska Territory. But the chilling murder of a local store owner is what really makes her blood run cold. . .

After three months in Cordova, Charlotte is getting accustomed to frontier life. She is filing articles for the local paper–including a provocative editorial against Prohibition–and enjoying a reunion with her brother Michael, the town doctor and coroner. Michael’s services are soon called upon when a fire claims the life of hardware store owner Lyle Fiske. A frontier firebug is suspected of arson, but when Michael determines Fiske was stabbed before his store was set ablaze, the town of Cordova has another murder to solve.

Her journalist’s curiosity whetted, Charlotte begins to sort through the smoldering ruins of Lyle Fiske’s life, only to discover any number of people who might have wanted him dead. As the days grow shorter, Charlotte’s investigation turns increasingly complex. She may be distant from the trappings of civilization, but untangling the motives for murder will require plumbing the very depths of Charlotte’s investigative acumen. . .

Initial impressions

I enjoyed this mystery set in the Alaska Territory though I did have a few problems with it.

The story

  • The story continues from the first book with Charlotte living in the Alaska Territory in Cordova.
  • Charlotte works as a journalist for the town newspaper.
  • She’s excited that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution (giving women the right to vote) is being ratified by the states. (Twenty states had ratified the Amendment.)  Charlotte is interested in women’s rights as well as other political issues.
  • The hardware store in town burns down and someone inside the store dies.
  • Charlotte is at the scene of the fire so she can write about it in the town paper.
  • An arsonist has been setting fires around Cordova though nothing as big as this. Did the arsonist set the fire?
  • Charlotte feels she needs to figure out who set the fire.


  • I love the time period and the setting in the Alaska Territory.
  • The descriptions about using hot lead to set the type for the newspaper are fascinating.
  • I like that Charlotte writes unpopular articles in the newspaper. An article about the prohibition of alcohol and the harm that could do brings out the angry temperance movement in Cordova.
  • I like the mystery. There are twists and turns and everything and everyone isn’t always happy with the outcome.
  • A beautiful cover–though Charlotte is dressed a little too fancy for the Alaska Territory.


  • It would have been better if the members of the temperance movement weren’t stereotypes. There are valid points on both side of the alcohol issue–though prohibition didn’t work.
  • I felt Charlotte trades too much on her friendship with Deputy Marshal Eddington.
  • I’m not sure what happened in book 1, but Eddington doesn’t show himself in the best light in this book.

And concluding thoughts . . .

  • I haven’t read the first book in the series, but was able to enjoy this book. I do think I might have appreciated this book more if I had read the first book.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

From Cathy Pegau:

  • “Writing was not the career path I chose when the time came. I thought the arts, while enjoyable, was not the way to make a living. So I went into science. Wildlife biology, to be exact. Yep, plenty of prosperous biologists wandering about in the woods, you know. Obviously money was not high on my list of job perks. But I enjoyed the course work (how many college students can say THAT?) and managed to get short-term positions for a few years. It was fun, hard and sweaty work, and gave me the chance to see and do things I wouldn’t have if I had chosen accounting or even writing. Like get lost in the woods overnight. But that’s another story.
  • I got engaged, then married–to a scientist, assuring perpetual financial uncertainty. We lived in Oregon for a while, and when he was offered a job in Alaska we jumped at it. So, now we live here with our kids and critters and the occasional moose strolling through the yard. I can’t afford therapy, so I write. I want to do what I want to do, so I write. I want my kids to know that pursuing dreams is important, so I write.”

Reading Challenges

Author: Jan

I love to read--especially mysteries, science fiction and fantasy. I also love blogging, photography, gardening, playing Mah Jonng, reading with a cat on my lap, throwing a ball for a dog, creating cards to send to family and friends, reading book blogs, using my computer.

4 thoughts on “Borrowing Death by Cathy Pegau”

  1. Love the cover & love the setting (Alaska! Prohibition/Suffragette era! Newspapers!) Wish it was better for you. Maybe if you read book 1 first.

    So maybe I’ll look for book #1 also, but not at the top of my list. Thanks for your honest opinion.


  2. This book tempted me on NetGalley because the cover is so eye catching but I skipped it because I hadn’t read the first book. I think your flaws would bother me as well. I don’t like when characters rely on friendships with influential characters too much and I agree about the temperance movement. While obviously prohibition didn’t work there were so many other aspects of the movement that really have made a difference – especially in terms of women’s rights. While this isn’t a book I feel like I want to run out and get I think if I saw the first one I’d definitely want to take a chance with it as the setting is so unusual.


    1. I try to stay away from books if I haven’t read the ones before that book, but I decided to give a couple book 2 in a series a try. Not sure I’ll do that again!

      I went to look at book one and then reviews for book 2 and it seems quite a few people were disappointed with book 2 after really liking book 1.


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