A Grave Denied (Kate Shugak Series #13)

A Grave Denied (Kate Shugak Series #13)

4.5 27
by Dana Stabenow

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"Shugak is one of the great characters of modern crime fiction."
--Laurie R. King, author of Keeping Watch

"Every time I think Dana Stabenow has gotten as good as she can get, she comes up with something better."
--The Washington Times

"The twelfth in a series that truly evolves...Rich with details about life in this snowbound culture, the


"Shugak is one of the great characters of modern crime fiction."
--Laurie R. King, author of Keeping Watch

"Every time I think Dana Stabenow has gotten as good as she can get, she comes up with something better."
--The Washington Times

"The twelfth in a series that truly evolves...Rich with details about life in this snowbound culture, the story moves at a steady pace to a classic ending."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review) on A Fine and Bitter Snow

"An intelligent crime novel that reflects both [Stabenow's] love of wilderness and her understanding of the complex questions of profit versus the purity of the frontier."
--The Dallas Morning News on A Fine and Bitter Snow

"Dana Stabenow excels at evoking the bleakness and beauty of the far north."
--Seattle Times on The Singing of the Dead

"With well-drawn characters, splendid scenery and an insider's knowledge of Alaskan history and politics, this fine novel ranks as one of Stabenow's best."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review) on The Singing of the Dead

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
After a dozen mysteries featuring Aleut sleuth Kate Shugak, including the Edgar-winning debut A Cold Day for Murder (1992), Stabenow's framework remains simple, sound and effective. Take a strong-willed, independent woman and pit her against the beautiful and dangerous Alaskan wilderness and those, mainly men, who try to compromise her independence. Give her a faithful companion, Mutt, a half-wolf mixed breed, and an abiding sense of loyalty and fair play. One of the pleasures of the series is the tension that arises from the characters' need for both privacy and dependence on others. The result is closeness without intimacy, superbly illustrated when the body of Len Dreyer, town handyman, turns up at the mouth of a glacier. Only then does it become clear that the victim was a complete cipher. Challenges and changes also mark Kate's relationships with teenager Johnny Morgan, son of her late lover, Jack Morgan, and with state trooper Jim Chopin. Kate's professional training and investigative skills make her an able adjunct for the undermanned state police, but this time her efforts render her and Johnny and Mutt targets for a killer. 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. (Sept. 8) FYI: Stabenow is also the author of the Liam Campbell (Nothing Gold Can Stay) and the Star Svensdotter (Red Planet Run) mystery series. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Kate Shugak (A Fine and Bitter Snow, 2002, etc.) gets handed a cold one: Len Dreyer's body, frozen beneath a glacier, with a shotgun hole in its chest. Teenagers find the corpse while on a spring field trip to Grant Glacier. Since nobody remembers seeing the ubiquitous handyman since October, and State Trooper Jim Chopin is overwhelmed with hotter cases, he asks Kate to investigate but soon regrets getting her involved. After she begins inquiries, someone burns down the cabin her father built by hand and narrowly misses incinerating her and her ward, 14-year-old Johnny Morgan. To keep her safe, Jim fires her. Kate, bound on revenge, ignores him. Chopin then gets more help he doesn't want: Dandy Mike, the tribal chief's son, wants to be Jim's deputy, so he makes the rounds of ex-girlfriends, asking nosy questions about Dreyer. Between them, Kate and Dandy discover only that Len was an excellent handyman on a cash-only basis who occasionally allowed lustful women to wrestle him to the ground but showed little interest on his own. In Alaska, such frigidity amounts to suspicious behavior-until Kate discovers a more compelling reason for putting him in the deep freeze. This time, however, she's hot on the trail of a red herring while the real shark silently pursues her. A satisfying case for Kate and her friends, although alert readers will spot the villain before they do.
From the Publisher

“One of the strongest voices in crime fiction.” —Seattle 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 (starred review)

“Every time I think Dana Stabenow has gotten as good as she can get, she comes up with something better.” —The Washington Times

“The skillful Ms. Stabenow has created a believable, well-defined character in Kate and placed her in a setting so beautiful that the crimes she investigates seem almost sacrilegious...this is Ms. Stabenow's 13th Kate Shugak novel, and they just get better and better.” —Dallas Morning News

“A gifted few are able to employ the setting as something more, an ingredient that adds texture and tone and lifts the story out of the commonplace and into the rare...to these, add Dana Stabenow...this is the 13th volume in the Kate Shugak series, which, unlike many, keeps improving with age-due in large measure to Stabenow's splendid evocation of the Alaskan landscape.” —San Diego Union-Tribune

“The characters literally come alive to bring you into this fast-paced thriller, which will keep you turning the pages of this high-voltage mystery.” —Rendezvous

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Kate Shugak Series, #13
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
6.38(w) x 9.52(h) x 1.09(d)

Read an Excerpt

Ms. Doogan waited for the laughter to die down. “Think about this, boys and girls,” she said, waving a hand at the glacier.

"Seventy-five years ago? This little strip of beach we're picnicking on was under the glacier. That's right, under a big slab of ice just like that one. Your grandmas and grandpas couldn't have had a school picnic here." Eyes widened, measured the distance between the face of the glacier, a wall of ice a hundred feet high, and their beachfront picnic site. "Mother Nature doesn't waste time in the Kanuyaq River basin. How many of you remember last summer, when Grant Glacier thrust forward right over the lake?"

Blank looks all around. Ms. Doogan tried not to let her ex-asperation show. These kids were living in the middle of a ge-ological experiment in progress. If only she could get some of them to notice, they could go on to make a living from it one day.

They finished lunch and set out to explore. Ms. Doogan in-sisted that they go in groups of two or larger and stay in sight of her at all times, but beyond that they were free to wander as they chose, which added to the sense of it being more like a day off. Eric Kizzia ripped pages from his notebook and made paper sailboats to float in the lake, gathering other students to make a regatta out of it. Mary Lindbeck sat with her hands clasped around her knees and her face turned up to the sun. Others stretched out, some making notes, some napping.

"Hey, look, here's a trail," Johnny said. "It looks like it goes around the lake to the mouth of the glacier. Want to go?"

"Sure," Vanessa said.

"I'll go, too," Andrea said.

"And me," Betty said.

Andrea scowled.

Betty blinked.

Johnny and Vanessa exchanged martyred looks. Johnny led off, with Vanessa behind. Somewhere along the route Andrea elbowed Vanessa to the rear. She tried to walk next to Johnny but the trail was too narrow, so instead she relied on tripping and slipping a lot. "Thanks," she said, the third time it happened. She smiled up at him as she used his hand to pull herself upright.

"Sorry to be so clumsy." She turned the smile on Vanessa, who looked more than usually wooden of face.

The next time Andrea tripped, Johnny stepped nimbly out of reach and Andrea went down on both knees. She didn't mind bleeding as much as she minded getting blood on her brand- new Gap khakis. Her language was unladylike.

"Sorry about that," Johnny said, only he didn't sound sorry at A. "Hey, Van, look at this. Is this a lupine?"

Betty shoved past both of them and peered at the slender green shoots, comparing them to the copy of Pratt's Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers she held open before her on the palms of both hands, like a priest consulting a sacred scroll. "Lupinus arc-ticus," she announced in the manner of one handing down a prophecy. "Of the pea or Fabaccae family. A perennial, which means it comes back every year."

They gazed at her, stunned into silence by an oblivious self-assurance that allowed Betty to be convinced that they were as spellbound by the subject as she was. "The arctic lupine grows ten to sixteen inches tall, prefers dry slopes, fields, and roadsides, and is not to be confused with the Nootka lupine, which grows in Southeastern, Southcentral, and on the Chain." She frowned down at the plants. "I can't tell which this is. The pictures only show them in bloom." She displayed the book accusingly.

"Yup, that's lupine," Johnny said, and Vanessa quickly fol-lowed his lead. "Lupine, definitely."

Once more Andrea brushed ineffectually at the knees of her khakis and muttered dire imprecations to the fashion gods.

Johnny watched her for a moment, and said, "Want to get closer to the glacier?" "Sure," Vanessa said, measuring the distance. "Can we?" "Sure, the trail looks like it goes right up to it." "It could fall on us," Andrea said. "We won't get that close," Johnny said. Andrea hesitated, and he shrugged and turned, saying over his shoulder, "Stay behind if you want."

Vanessa and Betty swung out onto the path behind him. An-drea bit her lip, and followed.

It was rough and rocky going, with treacherous bits of ice cleverly hidden by glacial silt only revealing themselves when trodden upon. A faint, translucent fog seemed to be rising up out of the face of the glacier, looming large and blue in front of them.

They heard a faint cry, and looked around to see Ms. Doogan waving at them from the beach. "Did you hear her?" Johnny said.


"Hear who?" Vanessa said.

"We'd better go back, we could get in trouble," Andrea said.

Betty, caught between a natural inclination to succumb to authority and a congenital compulsion to amass scientific data, wavered.

"Come on," Johnny said. "We're almost there."

In the end the four of them approached the foot of the glacier together. Where the moraine ended, the leading edge of ice had eroded into a yawning black cave, shallow, dark from the silt and dirt embedded in it, an enormous, engulfing shadow in om-inous contrast to the bright, sunny day a few feet away. It was melting so fast that the runoff sounded like rain. The gravel beneath, rounded smooth by millennia of glacial erosion, was wet and shiny. The cold and the moisture hit their faces like a slap.

-ies like standing in front of an open refrigerator," Andrea said.

Johnny didn't look at Vanessa, the same way she didn't look at him. Andrea lived in Niniltna, where they had electricity com-ing out of every wall plug. She didn't live on a homestead, like he did, or on a defunct roadhouse site like Vanessa, or in the middle of a bison farm like Betty. Townies just had no clue.

Johnny peered into the interior. "Whoa," Betty said. "You don't want to get too close." She pointed. "The face is calving all the time. Look at all that fallen stuff. Some of those pieces are pretty big. You don't want to get hit."

"Darn right we don't," Andrea said tartly. "Okay, we've been here, done that, let's go back."

"There's someone in there," Johnny said.

"Oh, come on," Andrea said with a playful slap at his shoul-der. "Stop kidding around."

"I'm not kidding," Johnny said, "there's somebody inside, un-der the glacier."

"What?" Betty and Vanessa crowded next to him, peering into the gloom. "Where?"

"Right there."

They followed the direction indicated by his pointing finger, and out of the dim a figure coalesced, a dark outline, vaguely human, sitting bolt upright with its back to the ice where the ice curved in to meet the gravel. The figure appeared to be clothed. At least no flesh was gleaming whitely at them.

It also wasn't moving. "Um, hello?" Johnny said.

It didn't move. "Hello, you there inside the glacier," Betty said in an unconscious imitation of Ms. Doogan's authoritarian accents. "You need to come out from under the glacier. It could fall on you."

At that moment a shard of roughly the size of a bronto-saurus calved from the face of the glacier and smashed to the earth outside in a thousand pieces, one of which narrowly missed Andrea, which, after her own heart settled down, Vanessa -thought was a dam shame. They all jumped and bumped into each other. Johnny swore. Andrea, of course, screamed. "You guys are nuts, you re all going to get squished! There's no one in there, no one would be crazy enough to go in there! I'm going back to the lake!"

The other three heard the sound of rapidly receding feet. The opening into the ice was still free. "Hello?" Johnny repeated. "You need to come out of there, whoever you are."

There was no response.

"Maybe they're dead," Vanessa said, articulating the thought uppermost in all their minds. "We should check."

She stepped inside then open mouth of the cave. After a momentary hesitation, Johnny and Betty followed.

As they approached the sitting figure, their eyes adjusted to the darkness. It was a man, dressed in worn jeans and a Carhartt’s jacket. His face was the blue-white of the face of the glacier, veined and mottled.

The hole in his chest was the size of a basketball.

Copyright 2003 by Dana Stabenow

Meet the Author

Dana Stabenow is the New York Times bestselling author of the Kate Shugak mysteries and the Liam Campbell mysteries, as well as a few science fiction and thriller novels. Her book A Cold Day for Murder won an Edgar Award in 1994. Stabenow was born in Anchorage, Alaska and raised on a 75-foot fish tender in the Gulf of Alaska. She has a B.A. in journalism and an M.F.A. in writing from the University of Alaska. She has worked as an egg counter and bookkeeper for a seafood company, and worked on the TransAlaska pipeline before becoming a full-time writer. She continues to live in Alaska.

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Grave Denied (Kate Shugak Series #13) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Cheryl Casper More than 1 year ago
just downloaded 5 new books from this author.
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Really enjoyed.
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trbCA More than 1 year ago
I've enjoyed all of Dana Stabenow's "Kate Shugak" series. Besides reading a good mystery, I get to learn about Alaska's histtory.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stabenow doesn't disappoint in this 13th outing with Kate and company with the perfect balance of mystery, humor, and all-around Alaska-ness.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a faithful fan of Ms. Stabenow, and i must say that this book is one of my favorites in the series! Well written, great characters, I had to finish it! Great job, Dana!!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This is my first experience with reading any Dana Stabenow book, and I am eagerly awaiting my next tript to B&N to add to my collection! I was completely drawn in by the idea of an independent woman in the Alaskan Park country, a woman who does not depend on the presence of a man for validation, one who thinks through her next move, and although she receognizes her emotions and is human enough to become temporarily immobilized by her lover's death, she isn't squeamish about the trials life throws her way. The premise, a body found under a glacier, captures the reader's attention, and holds it throughout the story. The drama is played out against the murder investigation instead of the investigation being the total focus of the book. The main character and several secondary characters are well developed and give the reader a sense of being drawn into the small and tightly knit community that is the extended family of Kate Shugak. My only criticism of the book is the fact that I had a little problem with some of the sentence construction, which was possibly a regional difference. I recommend this book to anyone who has fantasized about 'roughing it' in the wild country of Alaska, especially the female population. This is a different experience and makes a good read for those long winter nights (even if they aren't as long as the Alaskan winter nights!)