'Frozen': A story that wouldn't let go

By Laurie Hertzel
Star Tribune

Casanova_frozen coverMary Casanova was paging through a book of local history a few years ago when she happened upon a heart-stopping anecdote: In the early 1900s, a prostitute in the northern Minnesota town of Northome had died in the snow, and someone thought it would be amusing to drag the frozen body into the City Council chambers and stand it in a corner.

That was all the book said -- no mention of the woman's name, or why she had collapsed that cold, bitter night, or what happened to her body later. Just that one sad paragraph, which haunted Casanova for years.

"It wouldn't let me go," said Casanova, who lives near International Falls, Minn. She wanted to write about it, but she wasn't sure how; Casanova has built a career as an award-winning author of books for children, and a gruesome story about a mocked, long-dead prostitute seemed an inappropriate fit.

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