Though Not Dead (Kate Shugak Series #18)by Dana Stabenow
In the newest entry in Dana Stabenow’s New York Times bestselling Kate Shugak series, Kate and the rest of the Park rats are stunned by the death of Old Sam, Kate’s eighty-seven-year-old uncle and foster father. In his will, he leaves almost everything to Kate, including a homestead deep in gold mining country that no one knew he had and a letter/i>
In the newest entry in Dana Stabenow’s New York Times bestselling Kate Shugak series, Kate and the rest of the Park rats are stunned by the death of Old Sam, Kate’s eighty-seven-year-old uncle and foster father. In his will, he leaves almost everything to Kate, including a homestead deep in gold mining country that no one knew he had and a letter that reads simply, “Find my father.”
Easier said than done, since Sam’s father is something of a mystery: an outsider who disappeared shortly after learning about Sam’s existence, he took with him a priceless tribal artifact, a Russian icon. During the first three days of Kate’s search, she gets shot at, whacked in the head, and run off the road in deep snow and left for dead.
Interspersed with flashbacks from Sam’s fascinating life, including scenes from major events in Alaskan history, Kate does her best to fulfill Sam’s last wish—as various people follow her every move, in search of the icon, Old Sam’s gold, or possibly some other secret remnant of his long, mysterious life.
Alaskan native Kate Shugak (A Night Too Dark, 2010, etc.), former investigator for the Anchorage DA, investigates her own family's past.
When he dies, Kate's uncle and foster father, Old Sam, leaves everything to Kate, along with a letter telling her how to distribute his property. While packing up Sam's extensive book collection, she finds an old diary. But before she's read very much of it, someone bashes her in the head and steals it. The theft is only the first in a series of dangerous encounters. After she's run off the road, attacked and shot at while checking out Sam's property in the remote Canyon Hot Springs area, she realizes that Sam had something someone badly wants, and that Sam's life must hold the clues to what she needs to know. So she travels around Alaska digging up information. A cryptic note saying only "Find my father" leads her to Sam's Army service in the World War II Aleutian campaign, where he met Dashiell Hammett and apparently his real father, a con man and thief who had stolen a precious Russian icon. With her boyfriend, State Trooper Jim Chopin, off in the lower 48 for his father's funeral, Kate has only her half-wolf Mutt and her prodigious skills in surviving Alaska's often brutal conditions to help her find the truth.
Kate's latest presents both a fascinating puzzle and an in-depth look at life in Alaska, past and present.
“In her newest Kate Shugak thriller, Stabenow proves she's as comfortable dealing with Alaskan history as she is portraying Kate's insular contemporary world and the harsh, beautiful, changing landscape she and her extended family call home… A stand-out entry in a consistently good series.” Booklist (starred review)
“The latest in Dana Stabenow's robust series [is] her most far-reaching Shugak story yet, ambitiously incorporating some of Alaska's colorful history.” Seattle Times
“In Edgar-winner Stabenow's brilliant 18th novel to feature the feisty Alaska detective…Kate is at her butt-kicking best as she and Mutt, her inseparable half-wolf, half-husky companion, deal with murder, theft, and deception.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Full of historical mystery, stolen icons, burglaries, beatings, and general mayhem…The plot bursts with color and characters… If you have in mind a long trip anywhere, including Alaska, this is the book to put in your backpack.” Washington Times
“This one holds readers' interest with fascinating tidbits of Alaskan history from 1918 to 1965 as seen through Old Sam's eyes. Sure to be popular with lovers of the series as well as those who enjoy reading novels set in Alaska.” Library Journal
“P.I. Kate Shugak is back in this atmospheric novel that conveys a deep love of the land, history and cultural traditions of Alaska. The strong--and strong-willed--characters are fully developed --including the lovable and dependable half-wolf dog, Mutt…You will be savoring the details of this richly textured story. If you haven't read the earlier novels, don't worry. You will still enjoy this one.” RT Book Reviews
“Stabenow is blessed with a rich prose style and a fine eye for detail…It's an outstanding series and one that has, in fact, won awards and begun to turn up on bestseller lists here in the Lower 48. If you've never visited Alaska, it's also an intriguing introduction to that big, brawling, rather bewildering state.” The Washington Post on A NIGHT TOO DARK
“Stabenow deftly explores the environmental and economic impact of gold mining in her sizzling 17th novel to feature Alaska PI Kate Shugak.” Publishers Weekly on A NIGHT TOO DARK
“This finely evoked world of sod-roofed cabins and mining pre-fabs is still a place well worth visiting.” The Houston Chronicle on A NIGHT TOO DARK
“Kate Shugak, the Aleut private eye, demonstrates why she is considered one of the best among female sleuths in A Night Too Dark, the latest episode in Dana Stabenow's long-running Alaska-based series.” San Diego Union-Tribune on A NIGHT TOO DARK
“Kate Shugak's dark side is on display in Stabenow's 17th series novel… There isn't a stone left unturned as Stabenow exhumes old memories and new problems in a book taut with danger.” Romantic Times BOOKreviews on A NIGHT TOO DARK
“Grade: A. Some of the greatest mystery writers enrich us with their wonderful sense of place. Stabenow is one of them: Alaska's answer to Tony Hillerman, she brings us the sights and sounds that few visitors will ever know...If you haven't discovered Stabenow yet, start here--then go back to A Cold Day for Murder and enjoy the whole story.” Rocky Mountain News on WHISPER TO THE BLOOD
“Excellent… No one writes more vividly about the hardships and rewards of living in the unforgiving Alaskan wilderness and the hardy but frequently flawed characters who choose to call it home. This is a richly rewarding regional series that continues to grow in power as it grows in length.” Publishers Weekly (starred review) on WHISPER TO THE BLOOD
“One of the best… A dynamite combination of atmosphere, action, and character.” Booklist (starred review) on WHISPER TO THE BLOOD
“There are now 15 Kate Shugak novels in this excellent series set in backwoods Alaska, and rather than losing steam, Stabenow is building it. Whisper to the Blood is the best Shugak so far...Stabenow is terrific at building a story, and keeping the suspense tight and the story moving. I love her descriptions of local life, the cast of eccentric but believable characters, and the glimpses of this stunningly beautiful part of the world.” The Globe and Mail on WHISPER TO THE BLOOD
“A cleverly conceived and crisply written thriller.” San Diego Union-Tribune on A DEEPER SLEEP
“A splendid series.” USA Today on A DEEPER SLEEP
“An engaging plot…a vivid depiction of the Alaskan wilderness.” Booklist on A DEEPER SLEEP
“All the elements that have made this series successful shine.” Publishers Weekly (starred review) on A DEEPER SLEEP
“A frightening, tightly written thriller.” Kirkus Reviews on Prepared for Rage
“Apollo 13 meets United 93…Stabenow knows Coast Guard and astronaut lingo.” Entertainment Weekly on Prepared for Rage
“Stellar…entertainment and suspense of a high order.” Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Prepared for Rage
“Edge-of-seat quotient: High.” Entertainment Weekly on BLINDFOLD GAME
“[An] explosive climax.” San Francisco Chronicle on BLINDFOLD GAME
“Action-packed…an ingenious plot.” Denver Post on BLINDFOLD GAME
“The author jacks up the adrenaline.” People on BLINDFOLD GAME
“The drama [is] so harrowing you'll be looking for a life vest before the last wave drenches you…. [A] smashing maritime adventure.” Mystery Scene on BLINDFOLD GAME
“Stabenow's descriptions of the ensuing duel at sea…make for edge-of-seat stuff….And the creepy, authentic-sounding terrorist scenario will make readers sit up and take notice of a state that some Americans forget is actually there.” Booklist on BLINDFOLD GAME
“[E]xcellent.” Publishers Weekly (starred review) on BLINDFOLD GAME
“Blindfold Game, like its predecessors, can be read on two levels--as a cleverly-executed thriller with an intriguing protagonist or as a fascinating exploration of an exotic society with its own unique culture. Either way, you can't lose.” San Diego Union-Tribune on BLINDFOLD GAME
“A powerful tale of family secrets to include murder and blackmail.” Midwest Book Review on A TAINT IN THE BLOOD
“Every time I think Dana Stabenow has gotten as good as she can get, she comes up with something better.” Washington Times on A TAINT IN THE BLOOD
“If you haven't discovered this splendid North Country series, now is the time…highly entertaining.” USA Today on A TAINT IN THE BLOOD
“Full of strong story and sharp description…as perfect a description of a spoiled wilderness as any I've read that it deserves to be noted as one of her best…what makes Stabenow stand out is the way she plants us firmly in the soil of Alaska.” Chicago Tribune on A TAINT IN THE BLOOD
“With escalating suspense and Kate's sensuous new love affair with Alaska state trooper Jim Chopin, this book reveals previously hidden depths of Kate's personality. New readers will be enthralled by Stabenow's latest read, a standout in the mystery genre.” Romantic Times on A TAINT IN THE BLOOD
“Promising intrigue.” Kirkus Reviews on A TAINT IN THE BLOOD
Read an Excerpt
HE WAS EIGHTY-NINE,” KATE SAID, LOOKING up from a file box.
“Well, we all knew he was older than God,” Jim said.
They were at Old Sam’s cabin, where Kate was sorting through the old man’s belongings. Kate and the aunties had decided that the potlatch would be on the fifteenth of January, which gave them a little over three months to label Old Sam’s possessions for the gift giving, and to allow everyone from Alaska and Outside who wanted to attend to make travel arrangements and contact friends and relatives in the Park for a place to unroll their sleeping bags.
It was also the day of the annual shareholder meeting of the Niniltna Native Association. The price of gas being what it was, travel to and from Niniltna was not cheap, no matter if you did it by plane, boat, pickup, four-wheeler, or snowgo. Plus, it cost the same to rent the high school gym for an event that lasted four hours as it did for an event that lasted all day. Kate Shugak was a frugal and practical woman.
There was a file marked “Will” in the back of the box. Kate pulled it out and opened it.
Jim looked at her bent head, and at Mutt, who was leaning up against Kate’s side. Whenever Kate was hurting, Mutt was always as close to her as she could get without actually climbing into her lap. Since Mutt, the half gray wolf half husky who allowed Kate to live with her outweighed Kate by twenty pounds, leaning seemed the better option all around.
Old Sam’s cabin was built on a floor plan common to the Park anytime between twenty-five and a hundred years before, a ground floor twenty- five feet square with a sleeping loft reached by a ladder made from two-by-fours. The rungs on the ladder were worn smooth from decades of use. Jim hoped that when he was eighty-nine his knees would be in good enough shape to climb eight feet up a vertical ladder to get to bed.
He looked back at Kate.
If she were waiting for him in that bed, he’d find a way.
The one room downstairs had a counter with an old chipped porcelain farm sink set into it, with shelves built into the wall above and below. The sink came with an old-fashioned swan-necked spout and two spoked faucets. Old Sam had tapped into public water when it had come into Niniltna twenty years before, but the out house was still outside. When asked why no indoor toilet, a growled “You don’t shit in your own nest” was his invariable reply.
There was an oil stove for cooking and a woodstove for heat and an old Frigidaire refrigerator that must have been added when they ran the power line out from Ahtna back in the sixties. More built-in shelves covered every inch of the back wall from floor to ceiling beneath the floor of the loft, one section for weapons and ammunition and the rest for books ranging from Zane Grey to a leather-bound, three- volume edition of the log of Captain Cook that made Jim’s mouth water just to look at it. A brown vinyl recliner with a dent in the seat the size of Old Sam’s skinny ass occupied one corner, next to a pole lamp and a Blazo box standing on one end. The box was covered with mug rings and was filled with a stack of magazines, National Geographic, Alaska magazine, Playboy. There was a workbench next to the door where Old Sam cleaned his guns and did the fine woodworking on projects he’d allowed Park rats to talk him into, wall shelves and cupboards, mostly, with an occasional bed frame or dining table thrown in.
“He revised his will only last month.”
Kate was sitting at the chrome-legged dining table in the center of the room, on one of three mismatched chairs. The table had a lazy Susan in the middle of it, filled with salt and pepper shakers, a sugar bowl, a Darigold one-pound butter can with a plastic lid, a bottle of soy sauce. Old Sam liked his sticky rice, a legacy of his half-Filipino father.
Had liked. It was still difficult to accept the fact that the old man was dead. It was especially difficult to imagine life in the Park going on without his acid, perspicacious, and occasionally uncomfortably prophetic commentary. Old Sam had been an entire Greek chorus all by himself.
“He had a lot of stuff,” Jim said. “Do you want help?” It was Monday morning, and he was past due at work.
She looked up. “Less than two weeks ago.”
“He revised his will less than two weeks ago.”
“Maybe he had a premonition.”
She snorted. “There was never anything the least bit fey about Old Sam.”
Jim thought of the old man built of bone and sinew, quick, smart, smart-assed. Indomitable, indestructible, and until the day before yesterday, immortal. Kate was right. If anyone had ever lived in the real world, it had been Old Sam Dementieff. Jim was going to miss the hell out of him. “Do you need help here?” he asked again. “I can take a day.”
“Thanks, but I got this.” She tucked a strand of short dark hair behind an ear, exposing the high, flat cheekbone and the strong throat bisected by the long scar that had faded over the last eight years to a thin white line. With hazel eyes set in skin darkened to bronze by the summer just past and a full seductive mouth set over an obstinate chin, she was a five- foot, one- hundred- and- twenty- pound package of dynamite clad in black sweatshirt, blue jeans, and tennis shoes.
His dynamite. The pronoun came to him without warning, and under its influence he stepped forward to pull the file from her hands. “Come here.” He picked her up and sat down again on the chair, setting her on his lap.
She didn’t protest. Her head found a place on his shoulder instead, and a moment later he felt the warmth of her tears soak through his shirt.
“Hey,” he said, tipping her head up.
She took a shaky breath and tried to smile. “He’d make fun of me if he could see me now.”
“Bullshit,” Jim said. “He’d be proud you cared enough. Listen, Kate. He went out the way we all wish we could go. He hunted his own moose, packed it home, butchered it out, and threw a feed for everyone he loved. Damn fine feed, too.”
Her smile was wobbly. “Yeah, it was.”
“And then he turned off the engine and left the shop.” Jim’s shoulders rose and fell in a slight shrug. “What do you Injuns say? It was a good day to die.”
She sniffed and gulped back a laugh that was half sob.
He leaned in, his lips moving across her skin, sipping at the salt tears. Her breath caught, warm on his cheek, and her head turned so her mouth was close to his. He accepted the invitation and their lips met in a long and gentle caress, his hands warm and strong at the back of her neck and on her hip.
It was becoming less frightening to him, this need he found to comfort, to console, to demonstrate an affection that had nothing to do with sex. Although if the nearest bed hadn’t belonged to a man not dead forty-eight hours . . . He raised his head and hazel eyes met blue in a long look. “Better?”
She was a little flushed, and the full lips quirked at the corners. “An effective laying on of healing hands.”
He grinned and kissed her again, quick and hard. “I’ll lay more than that later.”
Old Sam would have, too.
The loss of Old Sam Dementieff notwithstanding, Jim drove to the trooper post with a lighter heart. Probably part of that was due to Kate’s being as willing to accept his comfort as he was unafraid to give it. They’d been circling each other for so long, wary, suspicious, and let’s face it, just plain scared of all the baggage loaded on that slow-moving barge called relationship. You couldn’t move a barge on its own, you had to hire a tug. Up until Kate, the women with whom he’d kept company had lasted the length of a ride in a cigarette boat between Miami and Havana. Sometimes it felt like he’d served more time for Kate than Jacob had for Rachel.
He knew she was still working out the trust issues. Jack Morgan, a government-certified Grade A one-woman man, was a hard act to follow in that respect. It didn’t help that despite a visible lack of offspring, Chopper Jim Chopin’s nom d’amour had once been Father of the Park. Come to think of it, Old Sam had been the one to hang that on him. Right after Misty Lambert had burned the clothes he’d left behind, during the monthly meeting of her book club with all eight members in attendance and more invited over to celebrate the event. At least half of whom he’d slept with at one time or another.
They’d all got a big laugh out of it at the time, both the ritual immolation and Old Sam’s nicknaming, but the truth was, Jim Chopin was probably quicker with a condom than he was with his sidearm. Living with Johnny Morgan was as close as he ever wanted to come to being a father. As the only Alaska state trooper in twenty million acres of national Park, he already had eight thousand children requiring primary care.
He pulled up in front of the post, making a mental note to stop in at the high school to suggest to Johnny, man-to-man, that he spend the night in town. Johnny was old enough to recognize the justice of the appeal, and besides, given the way things appeared to be heating up between Johnny and Van, the kid would expect some reciprocity in the not too distant future. Jim had a vivid memory of what sixteen was like. If he couldn’t keep his hands off Kate now, at sixteen he would have kept her horizontal for days at a time.
He laughed at himself and got out of the truck. His dispatcher met him at the door, a pink message slip in hand and an expression on her face that wiped his mind free of blithe spirit. “What?” he said, mind racing, sorting through the usual suspects. Howie Katelnikof, Martin Shugak, Wade Roche and what might or might not be going on out at his place, Dulcey Kineen’s latest escapade, which he hoped this time did not involve the road grader. “Cindy threatening to shoot Willard again?”
“No, Jim,” she said, and right away he knew from the gentleness of her reply that it was going to be bad. “I just got off the satellite phone with Nick.”
Nick Luther was head of the Alaska state trooper detachment in Tok, which had been Jim’s old post until two years before, when volume of business caused Juneau to open a new trooper post in the Park. He wondered now why he had never wondered before if someone in the state capital had known about the discovery of the world’s second largest gold mine in Suulutaq before making that decision.
His mind tended to head off on tangents whenever he wanted to avoid what was coming at him like a steamroller. He took a deep breath. “Go ahead,” he said. “Serve it up.” When she still hesitated, he said, “What ever it is, letting it sit won’t make it smell any better.”
“There’s no easy way to say this, Jim,” she said. “Your mother called.”
His spine stiffened. “Yeah?”
“I’m so sorry. Your father died.”
Kate sat on the bed and watched him pack, putting clothes she had never seen him wear into an actual suitcase she’d never seen him use. Out of uniform he wore T-shirts and jeans. Traveling within Alaska he used a pack. The charcoal gray suit looked like something the new and improved Kurt Pletnikof would wear to meet his better- heeled clients in Anchorage. The silver, hard- sided suitcase looked like it had been bought out of the SkyMall catalogue, with which Kate was familiar only because it was in every seat pocket on every Alaska Airlines 737, offering everything from basketballs autographed by Magic Johnson to $900 wine fridges, none of which was much use to anyone about to make a connecting flight to Igiugig. “Gee,” she said, “looks just like downtown.”
He shot her a quick look, and she wondered if that had come out more intimidated that she had meant it to. “California, here I come,” he said.
Try as she might she could not detect any joy in his tone.
They were in his room at Auntie Vi’s B and B, or what had been Auntie Vi’s B and B before she sold it to the owners of the Suulutaq Mine to be a bunkhouse for mine employees in transit. Auntie Vi was now running it for them. A condition of sale had been that Jim got to keep his room there, which he had had since first moving to the Park to open the post. Mine manager Vern Truax had been more than happy to accommodate a law enforcement presence fifty miles from his mine.
“Right back where you started from,” Kate said.
This time he stood up and looked her straight in the eye. “I won’t be staying long.”
“You don’t have any brothers or sisters,” she said.
“And your mother is how old?”
“Ten years younger than Old Sam.”
She thought of how healthy Old Sam had been, right up until he sat down on his dock and died. “Your mom in good shape?”
“Depends on what you mean by ‘in good shape.’ I’d bet a whole paycheck she looks pretty damn good. She’d sure as hell spend it getting that way.” He zipped the suit into a garment bag, something else Kate recognized only from cata logues, and snapped it into the lid of the aluminum suitcase.
“You’re, what, forty-two now?”
“She was thirty- seven when you were born.”
He added a couple of white, button-down shirts, neatly folded, to the suitcase. T-shirts, shorts, and socks followed. “I showed up late, when they’d pretty much given up on having kids. Dad was forty-five.”
“You never talk about them.”
He shrugged. “Not much to say. They were hard of hearing before I was in high school. It was like growing up with grandparents.”
Wow, she thought. Didn’t that sound affectionate.
When she thought about it later, she wondered if that lack of affection might have been part of what had driven Jim north in the first place.
He pulled a shoebox from beneath the bed and added it to the suitcase. The ditty bag full of toiletries went into a daypack with Craig Johnson’s latest Walt Longmire novel and Naomi Novik’s Victory of Eagles. The books had been waiting for him in the post office when he had cleaned out his mailbox that morning. He hoped two books were enough to get him from Anchorage to San Jose, because the rest of his to-read pile was back at Kate’s house. He was six four, and there was nothing worse than being shoehorned into last class with nothing to take his mind off the discomfort of having his knees jammed up against the seat in front of him. He’d once been stuck on a flight from Phoenix to Seattle with a Steve Martini book whose perp he’d guessed before they reached cruising altitude. Never again. “Where the hell’s my— Oh, here it is,” he said, producing a clip-on reading light and tossing it into the daypack with the books. “They’ve got the seats so close together on the new jets that I can never get the overhead light to shine on anything but the top of the head of the guy sitting in front of me. Especially when he leans his chair back into my lap.”
“Why did you come to Alaska?”
He zipped up the daypack. “I read Coming into the Country when I was too young to resist.”
Always with the smart remark. Fine. “Is anyone coming in to the country to cover for you while you’re gone?”
He snapped the suitcase closed and set it on the floor. “Nick will check in with Maggie every morning. Otherwise, I’m relying on you, babe. Oh.” He paused to look at her. “Kenny says there’s been a rash of break-ins and burglaries in Ahtna over the last month. He says he thinks it’s partly due to the economy, people looking for anything they can sell to raise cash. Just FYI, in case it spreads down the river.”
“Got it,” she said. He felt distant from her somehow, as if he were already in Los Angeles. Land of surf and sand and sun. When he looked at her again she realized she’d said the words out loud.
“I’m not staying there, Kate,” he said again. “I work in Alaska. I live in Alaska.”
You’re in Alaska, he could have said, but didn’t.
Instead, he put the daypack on the floor next to the suitcase and took her down to the bed with a soft tackle. Caught off guard, she looked up at him with a startled expression. “Let me just mark my spot,” he said, and reached for the buttons on her jeans.
He made George’s last flight into Anchorage with sixty seconds to spare. She stood flushed and rumpled at the end of the forty-eight hundred-foot dirt airstrip, watching the de Havilland single Otter turbo rise into the air, bank right, and head west, its signature whine receding over the horizon.
Mutt gave a soft, plaintive whimper. Kate looked down and said in a stern voice, “We are strong and beautiful women. We can do anything.”
And Mutt proved it on the walk back to the red Chevy super cab by catching the hem of Kate’s jeans in her teeth and dumping Kate on her ass.
THOUGH NOT DEAD Copyright © 2011 by Dana Stabenow
Meet the Author
Dana Stabenow, New York Times bestseller and Edgar Award winner, is the author of seventeen previous Kate Shugak novels, four Liam Campbell mysteries, three science-fiction novels, and two thrillers. She was born, raised, and lives in Alaska, where she was awarded the Governor’s Award for the Humanities.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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"Though Not Dead" is a well-plotted suspense with interesting three-dimensional characters with a bit of fascinating Alaskan historical background. Real, believable, down-to-earth people with great heart make up the character types. They portray great bonds between people as well as great bonds between people and their animals, such as "Mutt", Kate's dog / wolf. Old Sam's death provided the mysteries to be searched out and the search gave Kate much more knowledge of Old Sam than she would have gathered otherwise. A worthwhile read.
Ah, Dana Stabenow. It's hard think of any other series, mystery or otherwise, where the 18th book in the series is as strong and well-written as the ones that have come to us before. You care as much, if not more, about "Though Not Dead" and the residents of The Park in Alaska, particularly investigator Kate Shugak as Stabenow unfolds more of the byzantine story of Kate and her family and friends. You are thrilled to see what adventures Kate is bound to dig up or to have thrust upon her. I don't like to give any plot points when I write about a book in order not to ruin even the tiniest plot point for other readers. I will just say that this book takes up shortly after the end of the 17th book, "A Night Too Dark". My only complaint is that it will take another year before we all get to see what happens next. And with a talented writer doing what she does best, you will always want to know what happens next. For now though, curl up with this book and enjoy the ride through Alaska and beyond. Thanks, Dana.
In Alaska octogenarian Samuel "Old Sam" Dementieff dies. His friends like his niece and one time ward private detective Kate Shugak assumed "Old Sam" would live forever. Kate still believes her beloved foster father will live forever in hearts likes hers. His death also ignites a deadly treasure hunt frenzy. Just a few years before Sam was born a flu epidemic devastated Alaska and much of the world in 1918. Years later, Sam was part of a party who found the state's biggest gold mine, the Suulutaq which produced a legendary gold nugget that everyone seems to want to own and some are willing to kill to possess it. However, gold fever is not the only value, the survivors want with Sam's demise. From when Sam met Dashiell Hammett, rumors spread that the writer left behind in the Aleutians an unpublished manuscript. Finally he also served in WWII as part of the Army's Castner's Cutthroats unit while a shocked Kate learns of his many trysts. All these major events in the late Sam's life converge with a rash of lethal crimes as Kate wonders what her cherished Old Sam meant in his will to find his father. This is a great Alaskan mystery that fans of the Shugak saga (see A Night Too Dark) will thoroughly enjoy. The story line is fast-paced even when the plot goes back in time to key moments in Old Sam's life that cleverly parallel major events in twentieth century Alaska. The crime frenzy makes for a fine whodunit, but the interweaving of the past makes for a great novel that readers will appreciate. Harriet Klausner
Love this series of books! Ms. Stabenow does an excellent job of drawing you into the history of Alaska & weaving a good mystery. There is always something new around the corner! Be sure to start at the beginning of the series, so you can bond with all the characters!
I truly love this series! I'm gonna miss Old Sam, though! I thought this was a great book, and with each new book in the series, Ms. Stabenow's love for her home state comes through with vivid clarity. My favorite way to spend an evening is curled up with another mystery staring Kate and Mutt!
Love all the characters. Love learning about Alaska.
I have been reading the Kate Shugak series for a long time. It remains interesting and mysterious. Dana Stabenow has allowed the characters to grow, to die, and for new people to come aboard. I can't wait for the next one.