When Len Dreyer's body is discovered, frozen solid, in the path of a receding glacier with a hole from a shotgun blast in his chest, no one even noticed that he was missing for months. Alaska State Trooper Jim Chopin asks Kate to help him dig into Dreyer's background, in the hope of finding some motive for his murder. She takes the case, mindful of the need for gainful employment as she copes with her responsibility for Johnny, the teenage boy in her care and a constant reminder of his father, her dead lover. Little does she imagine that by trying to provide for him she just might put him right in the path of danger.
©2003 Dana Stabenow; (P)2003 Books on Tape, Inc.
"Every time I think Dana Stabenow has gotten as good as she can get, she comes up with something better." (Washington Times)
"Stabenow is a fine storyteller, but it is her passion for the Alaskan landscape and the iconoclastic people who inhabit it that fires this series and lifts this latest entry to its pinnacle." (Publishers Weekly)
Long term book junkie only recently addicted to audio books. Now my iPod and I are inseparable.
A Grave Denied"A Grave Denied" is not quite as light-hearted as "Breakup" was (duh! It has the word Grave in the title) but it is more upbeat than any book from "Hunter's Moon" onwards.
Kate is no longer lost. She is coming back to herself and coming home. Of course, this being a Kate Shugak book, that turns out to have a great deal of trauma and risk associated with it.
The story revolves around the discovery that someone has shot dead a local handy man and hidden his body in a glacier. At the overworked Jim Chopin's request, Kate gets involved in the investigation of the murder. This quickly becomes personal and puts her and those around her at risk. The plot is a bit spookier than most Kate Shugak books, more like the things Liam Campbell deals with, it's complicated and unpleasant and has quite a slow reveal.
The murder investigation is an enabler in the novel, not the heart of it. What I particularly liked about this Kate Shugak novel is that it is an ensemble piece, with all the major characters playing a part and almost everyone else getting at least a cameo. Johnny Morgan is growing up and his Journal entry opens the book and other entries give his perspective on what living with Kate it like. Bobby faces his own problems with the family he left behind and broke contact with when he came to Alaska, Dinah shows her metal as a wife and mother and a staunch friend, and Jim Chopin get's more from Kate than he expected from her and is scared silly by it. Kate's life IS the people she loves, as much as it is the place she lives in. This book makes that clear in a very dramatic and emotionally moving way.
There were three things I liked about Kate in this book. The first was her confrontation with Johnny Morgan's mother. Kate is direct, forceful, ruthless and fearless - and not above fighting dirty if that's what it takes. This is the Kate Shugak that has the Park's respect. It was fun to watch. The second was the pleasure Kate takes in her new-found power over Jim Chopin. It was wicked, and funny and I hope to see a lot more of it. The third was Kate's recognition of her own roots in the house her father built. We've heard relatively little about her parents. It was good to see her attached to positive memories.
It was much harder to watch Kate's shock after the ultimate "involuntary Potlatch", it was like watching a great forest burn, it may bring renewal but while its happening it feels like a tragic end, not a new beginning. Watching Kate's friends responded was a welcome relief that lifted my mood.
Despite the threats to Kate and Mutt, despite the unpleasant motivations of the various parties involved in the crime, this feels like a book of healing: taking Kate back to a new beginning from which she can thrive.
Reading allows me to travel through time; to visit the world's unique and stunning places. To become somebody I am not... It is glorious.
I like this series though there have been some ups and downs. I have loved a couple of the books -- including Breakup -- and there are a couple of reasons why. 1. The author does a good job of adding humor to the story; and 2. The author lets Alaska shine as its own character. The books I have liked better than others in the series have both of those features and also let the supporting characters shine.
This book isn't quite up to that standard -- but Kate is coming back into herself. She has been "lost" since Hunter's Moon" and the books have been drearier. I am happy to have Kate more like her old self. I am thrilled that Bobby had a bigger role. I am enjoying Johnny and Jim in their newer roles. I miss Alaska. I want more of the unique setting that is the state, the Park, and the culture.
Can't get enough of this series. Have read them all over and over now am listening to them. Marguerite Gavin brings all the characters to life and makes listening such a pleasure.
I think I'm addicted to this series and only have 2 books per month on my subscription! The author seems to know just how much to give and how much to hold back to hook you on the next book. Good suspense regarding the story line as well as the character relationships!
And Buffalo George
Another fine story in the Kate Shugak series. A body is found floating in glacial meltwater and a few more occur before Kate figures it out. The book has all the familiar characters, plus a few more. Chopper Jim's emotional outburst broke the cast I had in mind for him: intractable, inscrutable, solid cop...not so much. If I could choose a theme, it would be: "Alaskan winters can drive you nuts"...another fine portayal of Alaska's culture that us Outsiders just don't get.
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