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
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.
Love learning more about Alaskan history and following a great mystery set in Alaska. Have read this series several times but love the indomitable attitude of Kate Shugak.
I really liked this book. So much so that I want to read the whole series now. This was book 20, so I have a ways to go. Yet, I think I will enjoy all of them. Great way to use my credits!
As always, great character development (this book sat in my account for almost 2 years because I found it hard to say goodbye to Sam) and the wonderful Alaska setting portrayed so wonderfully by Stabenow, not to mention the always intriguing mystery. I loved the interweaving of the 3 stories in this volume (that of Sam in the past, of Kate delving into Sam's mystery and Jim's own journey.)
the complex, interwoven mysteries
Kate -- great strong protagonist and love her interaction with the other characters (and Mutt)
not one in particularly, a lot of moving scenes (and I love EVERY scene with Mutt)
Maybe - I rarely listen to stories a second time, but I enjoyed Marguerite Gavin's narration so much, I just might, since I was so let down by what I started to listen to after finishing this book.
I always love Kate best and appreciate that Stabenow doesn't make her too good or too much without flaws, she grows and learns in a realistic way from her experiences, makes mistakes, all that.
No, but I certainly will after this one!
I've read all of Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak books and have loved each one. They always feel fresh, the interactions of the characters never feel forced, and the developments always seem natural and realistic but still quite fascinating. I"ve never felt she's just trying to crank the next book out or tie up loose ends, but keeps crafting each book, start to finish.
Murder Mystery with a little romance:
Starts out with the death of a long time well loved local.
The story surrounds his history and also his beneficiary, Kate's history.
A good story, but too much history about Alaska. Admittedly, I am not a history fan. So if you are, you'll enjoy all the extra info on the history of Alaska.
I would have rated 4 out of 5 if the history part had been abbreviated.
I listen to Audible so that I can read and do all that Mom stuff as the same time. I do see the words as they are read.....
I have read several of Dana Stabenow's books and I love Kate Shugak. These are not always fabulous but this particular one has tons of twists, turns and flashbacks to the past. If you have followed Kate, Old Sam and the aunties this book will explain a lot.
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