This 18th novel in the Kate Shugak series features dozens of characters, ranging from a two-bit thug and a former “good-time girl” to a Chanel-suit wearing librarian and a soft-spoken aunty. Two or three of the characters appear both as wizened senior citizens, and in flashbacks from a half-century before as teenagers. In light of the intricate web of characters, narrator Marguerite Gavin’s ability to differentiate each voice is utterly impressive.
Gavin reprises here a role she’s performed in several other Stabenow novels: Kate Shugak, a no-nonsense, Aleutian private investigator. In the tradition of the best gritty procedurals, Kate doesn’t go looking for trouble trouble finds her. Gavin voices our hero with the perfect mix of brittle toughness, latent vulnerability, and the dogged fierceness peculiar to an ass-kicker who is also less than 5-foot-3 and 110 pounds. Kate has the quintessential tough broad attitude and analytical mind that make a great P.I., but Gavin also understands how to portray the uniqueness of Kate’s character within the detective novel genre: not only is Kate a female private investigator; she’s also a Native American.
Stabenow, who grew up in southern Alaska near the Chugach National Forest, deeply understands the values of the Aleutian community she's portraying, as well as the motivations of the "park rats" who live in the Chugach. Asking a park rat what brought him to Alaska is considered the height of rudeness in this culture. Knowing this, Gavin conveys reticence in her voice the reticence to speak up, to say more than one should, to trust someone extremely effectively. As the mystery unfolds, Gavin’s voice never betrays the next plot twist that is just around the corner. Even when Stabenow’s description veers toward hackneyed, Gavin finds a way to make the salient details stand out and keeps the listener engaged, providing a satisfying listen for crime novel fans. Maggie Frank
The residents of Alaska’s largest national park are stunned by the death of one of their oldest members, 87-year-old Old Sam Dementieff…even private investigator Kate Shugak. Sam, a lifelong resident, dubbed the “father” of all of the Park rats—even though he had no children of his own—was especially close to Kate, his niece, but even she is surprised to discover that in his will he’s left her everything, including a letter instructing her simply to, “find my father.”
Easier said than done, since Sam’s father is something of a mystery. An outsider, he disappeared shortly after learning about Sam’s existence, taking with him a priceless tribal artifact, a Russian icon. And in the three days after Kate begins her search through Sam’s background, she gets threatened—and worse.
The flashbacks from Sam’s fascinating life, including scenes from major events in Alaska’s colorful history, punctuate a gripping story in which Kate does her best to fulfill Sam’s last wish without losing her own life to the people who are following her every move, though what they are searching for Kate doesn’t even know.
In Dana Stabenow’s breathtaking new novel, Though Not Dead, the 18th to feature Kate Shugak, Kate’s search for the long-lost family secrets that have been interwoven with the epic history of an unforgiving land leads to an extraordinary treasure hunt with fatal consequences.
State of suspense: listen to more Alaskan mysteries in the Kate Shugak series.
©2011 Dana Stabenow (P)2011 Macmillan Audio
This is one of the few series that, for me, hasn't become either the same-book-with-small-changes or a caricature of itself by the 4th book. The book is, of course, well written including all the craft of authorship and read, once again letter-perfectly, by Ms Gavin. Historical fact is woven superbly into the story without bogging down the tale.
In the beginning it was difficult to get used to the Alaskan words, once I caught on to the "lingo" I ran with the book. It is a complex story, just like real life is. I will read it again, and have recommended it to several of my reader friends.
I have read or listened to all of the "Kate" books. I have a Kindle, but love this reader so much, I paid a little more to "listen". These books made me take a cruise to Alaska. I loved learning about "Old Sam" in his youth. Dana Stabenow ROCKS! Now I have to wait another year or so for more.
Reader And Listener
I love Alaska, and I have read a few of Stabenow's books before. The characters here are people I enjoy spending time with, but the story defies suspension of belief. Everything I could say by way of illustration would be a spoiler, but suffice it to say it's annoyingly repetitive. The susp It holds together as far as it goes, but I got the sense the author is getting bored with the series and it's getting to be more work than fun to write it.
This is well written book w/ a wonderful narrator (Gavin). Its not Tolstoy but instead is a good place to spend some time. As another reviewer wrote "not Nevada Barr", true but different and better in some ways. This is the first work I have heard from either the author of the reader, but I will take note and listen to more of their work. A bit complicated and implausible, but its fiction and a good read. Thanks to both the artists.
I love books!
Took a chance on a new author and was pleasantly surprised. I understand there is a Kate Shugak series and I'll read some more of it. It was a fun crime thriller but the setting in Alaska, learning some of its history and hearing how the natives deal with the what I would consdier harsh elements was just as entertaiining.
I'm a fan of both Dana Stabenow and Kate Shugak and have read or listened to all of her books. As a former Alaskan resident, I appreciate the way she creates the setting and the characters so clearly without over-explaining things. Although you won't find all of the place names on maps, the settings and characters are authentically rendered. I no longer live in the Last Frontier, so I value the next installments that help us recall our time up there, and it is a welcome trip back. Gavin is a very good narrator for the series as well. I'm impressed that, after 18 books, she continues to find ways to develop and build on the characters and situations we have come to know. I've enjoyed Stabenow's other novels too, but I'm glad that she continues to bring us to Kate's world.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! This is my first exposure to Dana Stabenow's main character Kate Shugak! I really enjoy the setting of the story in the rugged Alaskan territory and it strong independent main character Kate Shugak. I'm excited about my uncovering Dana Stabenow's writing talents and have already explored adding more of her novels to my reading and listening collection. I will recommend this book and this writer to many of my friends.
Old Broad with Keyboard
I discovered Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak series by sheer accident when I bought Midnight Come Again. I loved Kate & Mutt so much I actively sought out all the other 'Shugak' books that Audible had & then hunted down the rest of the series from other sources. I even resorted to READING some of the books when I couldn't find audios!! Kate, Mutt & Jim Chopan make an excellent team of investigators but I don't think it's fair that Kate ends up with all the black eyes this time around. Marguerite Gavin is the perfect voice for all the action, Alaskan history, murder, mayhem, "Good Time Girls" & crazy families. I can't wait for the next one!
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.
This story is full of history -- of the Park, of Old Sam, of Jim Chopin. It has flashbacks that tell us more about all of them. Jim exits the Park to attend his dad's funeral and we meet his mother as well as an ex-girlfriend. His absence allows both Jim and Kate to become more aware of where they stand with one another and their feelings for one another. And, of course, while he is gone Kate finds herself wrapped up in a mystery. But this one is more personal and therefore more intriguing. She learns so much of her family's history due to Old Sam's death. I loved this book because it allowed me to know Kate and Jim better. Character development is always my favorite part of any book.
Also, life in this small enclave of Alaska is an important part of this story which makes me happy. This series is at its best when Alaska is allowed to shine as its own character. Oh, and though his part was too small for my liking, Bobby makes an appearance too! Adding all those things together makes this reader very happy.
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