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Whisper to the Blood (Kate Shugak Series #16)
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Whisper to the Blood (Kate Shugak Series #16)

4.4 46
by Dana Stabenow

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Inside Alaska's biggest national park, around the town of Niniltna, a gold mining company has started buying up land. The residents of the Park are uneasy. "But gold is up to nine hundred dollars an ounce" is the refrain of Talia Macleod, the popular Alaskan skiing champ hired by the company to improve relations with the locals, and pave the way for the mine's


Inside Alaska's biggest national park, around the town of Niniltna, a gold mining company has started buying up land. The residents of the Park are uneasy. "But gold is up to nine hundred dollars an ounce" is the refrain of Talia Macleod, the popular Alaskan skiing champ hired by the company to improve relations with the locals, and pave the way for the mine's expansion…

Then, just as Talia is ready to present her case at town meetings and village breakfasts, there are two brutal murders, including that of a long-standing mine opponent. The investigation falls to Trooper Jim Chopin and, as usual, he could use some help from newly elected Niniltna Native Association chairman and part-time P.I. Kate Shugak. But Kate already has her hands full with a series of attacks on snowmobilers up the Kanuyaq River and the homicide of Park villain Louis Deem. With both cases on the verge of going cold, can Kate take the heat?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Alaska's answer to Tony Hillerman. If you haven't discovered Stabenow yet, start here. Grade: A.
” —Rocky Mountain News

“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)

“One of the best… A dynamite combination of atmosphere, action, and character.” —Booklist (starred review)

“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

Publishers Weekly

Former New York Times journalist Beauchamp offers a fascinating inside look at the reign of moviemaking king Joseph P. Kennedy, who held sway over the industry from 1926 to 1930. Kennedy was responsible for creating some of the most renowned movies; he plucked iconic stars from obscurity and transformed the business forever. Pam Ward delivers a solid performance, presenting Beauchamp's findings with a straightforward, journalistic tone. Neither over the top nor monotonous, Ward relates the material with an ear for old Hollywood-speak without sounding forced or mechanical. The result is an entertaining and incredibly informative listening experience. A Knopf hardcover (Reviews, Dec. 1). (Feb.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Kate Shugak Series , #16
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.80(d)

Read an Excerpt

“Grin bought out Mac Devlin.”
Kate looked up from the dining room table, where she was .tensive surveillance, some of which she had subbed out to Kurt Pletnikoff in Anchorage. Kurt was turning into quite the one-.while Park screwup make good, and while she begrudged none .keeping strained her negligible mathematical skills to the red shift limit. It took her a moment to focus on Jim’s news. “Grin?”
“Global Harvest Resources Inc. GHRIn. That’s what we’re calling them around the Park, hadn’t you heard?”
“No. Appropriate, though. They have to be grinning from ear to ear.”
“To be fair, everyone is—fed, state, local.”
“Not everyone local is,” Kate said.
“Yeah.” Jim slung his jacket around a chair and pulled off the ball cap with the Alaska State Trooper insignia, running a .lant against hat hair. “And not Mac Devlin anymore, either. He’s been operating on a shoestring for years, waiting on the big strike that never came. Last fall he had to sell off all his heavy equipment to pay his outstanding bills. Well, just to gild the lily, whoever his bank is got hit hard in the subprime mortgage mess, so they called in a lot of debt, including what they had on the land his mine sits on.”
“And the Nabesna Mine also just happens to sit right on the route to the valley where Global Harvest has its leases,” Kate said.
Jim nodded. “Owning the Nabesna Mine will give them easy access.”
“Hell,” Kate said, “Mac’s road into the Nabesna Mine gets them partway there. And give the devil his due, it’s a pretty good road.”
“Better than the state road into the Park.”
“No kidding. Although that’s not saying much.” She pointed with her chin. “The coffee’s fresh. And there’s gingerbread.”
“Outstanding.” He busied himself in the kitchen. “Mac’s pretty pissed about the whole deal. You know how he was such .ing Global Harvest and his bank must have been in cahoots, that they conspired to force him to sell for pennies on the dollar.”
“Where’s he saying this?”
“At the Roadhouse.”
“What were you doing out at Bernie’s?”
“Your cousin Martin was making a nuisance of himself again, so I went out to lay down a little law.”
Kate sighed. “What’d he do this time?”
“Got stumblebum drunk, tripped over a chair, and spilled a beer on the current quilt.”
“Holy shit,” Kate said, looking up. “Is he still living?”
Jim regarded the quarter section of gingerbread he had cut with satisfaction, and not a little drool. “The aunties were pissed.”
“Imagine my surprise. And Martin?”
.atory. “I think Bernie called me out more to get Martin into protective custody than because Martin was misbehaving in his bar.”
“Martin being one of his better customers,” Kate said. “Any other news from the front?”
.mented Louis Deem, had been at the Roadhouse, too, hanging around the outskirts of the aunties’ quilting bee, but Howie’s life was hanging by a thread where Kate was concerned. Jim thought, on the whole, better not to mention Howie’s presence.
It wasn’t that Jim, a fair-minded man, didn’t understand and ..ing direct, concrete evidence, that Howie was responsible for the attack that had put Kate’s truck in the ditch with Kate and Johnny in it, an attack which had also put Mutt in the hospital with a very nearly fatal bullet wound. There would be justice .gerly awaiting Park rats least expected it. Kate knew well the value of patience.
“The usual suspects,” he said, in answer to Kate’s question. “Pretty quiet on the northern front.” He frowned down at the gingerbread, which didn’t deserve it. “I have to say, it’s been an odd summer all around, though.”
Between the case and deckhanding for Old Sam on the Freya during the salmon season, Kate was a little out of touch on current Park happenings. “How so?”
He meditated for a moment. “Well, I guess I could sum it up by saying people haven’t been calling me.”
.fering from a deficiency of mayhem?”
He smiled briefly and without much humor. “I guess what I mean is I’m getting called out a lot, but only after the fact.”
She was puzzled. “I’m sorry? You’re always called out after the fact. A crime is committed, victim calls the cops. That’s the way it works.”
“That’s the way things are supposed to work.” He put the .ter. “I’ll give you an example. Just today, Bonnie had to call me down to the post office to break up a fight between Demetri and Father Smith.”
“What happened?”
“Smith dug up a section of Beaver Creek.”
Kate thought for a moment. “Demetri has a trapline on a Beaver Creek.”
“This would be the same creek. Demetri was seriously pissed off, big surprise, but instead of getting me, or maybe Dan O’Brien, chief ranger of this here Park, to call Smith to account, Demetri tracks him down on his own and proceeds to beat the living crap out of him.”
The Smiths were a large family of cheechakos who had bought a homestead from Vinnie Huckabee the year before and had come close to federal indictment for the liberties they had taken ..ally,” Kate said. “What a shame.”
“Yeah, I know, that’s why I didn’t toss the both of them in the clink. Anyway, I only meant the story as kind of an example of what’s been going on.”
“A lot of people been messing around on Park lands?”
“No, a lot of people taking the law into their own hands. .fonsky shoots Mickey the next time he raises a hand to her, when Bonnie Jeppsen tracks down the kid who put the rotting ..town Niniltna when said poacher tries to sell Dan a bear .thing of a trend going on.”
“Sounds like breakup, only the wrong time of year.”
“God, I hope not. One breakup per year is my limit.”
He brought cake and coffee to the table and just as he was sitting down she said, “While you’re up . . . ,” and pushed her mug in his direction. He heaved a martyred sigh and brought her back a full cup well doctored with cream and sugar.
.ing out Mac this quick. When did they buy those Suulutaq leases?”
Jim thought back. “When was the final disposition made on the distribution of lands in Iqaluk?”
Iqaluk was fifty thousand acres of prime Alaskan real estate tucked between the Kanuyaq River and Prince William Sound, in the southeast corner of the Park. It boasted one of the last unexploited old-growth forests left in the state, although the spruce had been pretty well decimated by the spruce bark beetle. There were substantial salmon runs in the dozens of creeks draining into the Kanuyaq, and there wasn’t a village on the river that didn’t run a subsistence fish wheel. With several small ..original hunting grounds for local Alaska Natives for ten thousand years.
It was equally rich in natural resources. Seventy-five years ago oil had been discovered on the coast near Katalla and had been produced until it ran dry. A hundred years ago, the world’s largest copper mine had been discovered in Kanuyaq. All that .ings. Niniltna, the surviving village four miles down the road, had as its origins the Kanuyaq miners’ go-to place for a good time. It was a productive mine for thirty-six years, until World War II came along and gave the owners an excuse to close .hind them as they skedaddled Outside with their profits.
With a history like that, it was no wonder that ownership of Iqaluk had been fiercely contested for nearly a century before title was settled, which settlement had satisfied no one. Dan ..luk deeded over wholly either to Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources or, failing that, to the U.S. Forest Service, famed for .nies. The Niniltna Native Association wanted it as a resource for hunting and fishing, if possible solely for its own shareholders and if not, at least for Alaska residents only, managed by a strict permitting process that gave preference to local residents.
Land ownership in Alaska was, in fact, a mess, and had been since Aleksandr Baranov stepped ashore in Kodiak in 1791. Until then Alaska Natives had been under the impression that land couldn’t be owned, of which notion Baranov speedily disillusioned them. After the Russians came the Americans, with their gold rushes, Outside fish processors, and world wars, which brought a whole bunch more new people into the terri­tory, including Kate’s Aleut relatives, resettled in the Park after the Japanese invaded the Aleutian Islands.
Statehood came, due mostly to political machinations in­volving Hawaii becoming a state at the same time and Eisen­hower wanting to field three Republicans to Congress to balance out the expected three Democrats from the Aloha State. After statehood came the discovery of oil, first in Cook Inlet and then a super-giant oil field at Prudhoe Bay. The new rush was on, to build the Trans-Alaska Pipeline to bring the crude to market, which project came to a screeching halt when Alaska Natives cleared their collective throats and said, “Ex­cuse me? A forty-eight-inch pipeline across eight hundred miles of aboriginal hunting grounds? That’s going to cost you,” and made it stick. Passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settle­ment Act, and later, the Alaska National Interest Lands Con­servation Act, pulled a bunch more acreage off the table, which left less than ten percent of Alaska in private hands. Wildlife refuges, national parks, state parks, yes. Farms, ranches, corpo­rate preserves, no.
Of course, a lot of people had made their way to Alaska long before the wherefores and whyases of said acts were a twinkle in Congress’s eye, many under the auspices of the Homestead Act, others who came north with the gold rush and stayed, who came north with the army and the air force and returned after muster­ing out, who came north as crew on fishing boats or canneries, married locally, and settled in for the duration. Their holdings were grandfathered in and the parks and refuges created around them. Which was why Dan O’Brien’s map of the Park, on the wall of his office in Park HQ on the Step, had all those minuscule yellow dots on it, each one signifying private ownership.
Land in Alaska, who owned it, and who could do what on it where was in fact a subject that preoccupied an embarrassing amount of everyone’s time and attention—public official, cor­porate officer, and private citizen. Any discussion of the subject was generally preceded by all combatants producing driver’s licenses and comparing numbers. The lower the number, the longer they’d been in the state, and the longer they’d been in the state, the louder and longer they got to talk.
“Land ownership in Alaska is like time travel in science fic­tion,” Kate said out loud.
“How so?”
“Just thinking about it makes me dizzy. Where’s Martin now?”
“Sleeping it off in the lockup. I’ll let him out in the morn­ing.” He thought for a moment, and added, “If the aunties have calmed down by then. The quilt was for Auntie Edna’s grand­daughter.”
“Yeah, I know. Elly. She’s ready to pop any time.”
“Who’s the dad?”
“She won’t say.”
Jim took a long look at Kate’s closed expression. There had been some muttering about a priest at the private school Elly had attended in Ahtna. No doubt he’d hear all about it in time from Ahtna police chief Kenny Hazen, whether he wanted to or not. He just hoped that if the rumor was true, Auntie Edna wouldn’t follow the current trend and settle accounts with the man herself. He shuddered to think of the damage the four aunties could in­flict if they put their minds to it. “Any luck on a vehicle for the kid?”
Johnny Morgan, son of Kate’s dead lover Jack Morgan and Kate’s foster son, had achieved the ripe old age of sixteen, and was now in the market for a vehicle of his very own.
Kate’s face cleared. “Bobby’s putting it out on Park Air this afternoon. I imagine somebody’s got a junker they want to un­load.”
“You care if it runs?”
She made a face. “I’d rather it didn’t.”
He laughed out loud this time, and she was forced into a chuckle herself. “I didn’t mean it that way,” she said. “Or mostly not. I’d just rather he spent some time under the hood before he started driving himself. He should know how to change the oil and a flat and the points and plugs. You know.”
“No,” he said.
She looked at him, amazed and a little scornful. “You don’t know how to change a flat?”
“In theory, I do,” he said. “Never had to, though. And I would rather I never had to.”
“You will,” Kate said with certainty and perhaps with some smugness mixed in. “Probably in winter. Probably January. The middle of the night. You’ll be barreling down the road and one of your tires will pick up an old railroad spike and that’ll be it, you’ll have to stop and get your hands dirty.”
“Or I could call you for help,” he said. “You do know how to change a tire.”
“That I do,” she said.
“I’d expect there to be a price,” he said.
“You’d expect correctly,” she said.
“And I’d expect to pay it,” he said, “in full,” and he grinned at her.
The combination of wide grin, crinkled blue eyes, and rum­pled dark blond hair was enough to make a grown woman sigh, but if Kate did sigh she kept it to herself. No point in giving Chopper Jim any leverage. Six-foot-four to her five feet, he out­weighed her by seventy pounds and was as white as she was Native. Not to mention that he was a serial womanizer and she was strictly a one-man woman. He’d never expressed any inter­est in having children and here she was, a foster mother, and the kid was the son of Jim’s ex-rival for Kate’s affections, no less. Plus Jim was a cop and she was a PI.
By any sane standard of measurement, they shouldn’t be here. Wherever here was. It’s not like either one of them knew.
He ate the last bite of cake and washed it down with the rest of his coffee. “So, where is the kid?”
“At Annie’s, splitting wood for her winter supply.”
He snorted. “Sure he is.”
Annie Mike was the guardian of one Vanessa Cox, Johnny’s best bud ever since he’d arrived in the Park. Vanessa had been a gawky and awkward child who was growing into a very at­tractive young woman. Neither Jim nor Kate held out much hope that Johnny hadn’t noticed. “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it,” Kate said.
“You two have the talk?”
“About seventeen times. I even gave him a box of condoms.” She smiled at the memory. “He nearly died.”
He laughed. “I bet.” He stood up and pulled her to her feet, stepping in close. “Did we have the talk?”
His teeth nibbled at her ear. Her eyes drooped, her nipples hardened, her thighs loosened. ’Twas ever thus with Jim, and it would have annoyed her if she hadn’t seen the pulse beating frantically at the base of his throat. “We did,” she said, her voice the merest thread of sound.
“Thank god for that,” he said, and led her upstairs.
Mutt returned from an extended lope around the homestead, her daily constitutional, nosed the lever handle on the door open, and bounded inside. She had been alerted to the presence of her favorite trooper by his truck in the clearing outside and was impatient to demonstrate her affection upon his person.
Instead, she paused just inside the door to cock a sapient ear at the ceiling. She listened for a moment, and then, displaying a tact it was a shame no one was there to see, quietly let herself out again.

Excerpted from Whisper to the Blood by Dana Stabenow.
Copyright © 2009 by Dana Stabenow.
Published in December 2009 by St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and
reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in
any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher

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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Whisper to the Blood (Kate Shugak Series #16) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
There's something especially rewarding about following a regional mystery series - you're not only familiar with the characters but with the terrain. Often you've been introduced to unfamiliar territory, and are eager to learn more during a return visit. Such is the case with Dana Stabenow's sterling Kate Shugak series. With this, the sixteenth in the series, we're reacquainted with Kate, a heroine with grit to spare, a 16-year-old foster son, and an Alaska state trooper boyfriend, Jim Chopin. We're also treated to one more narration by the splendid voice performer Marguerite Gavin who has recorded over 200 audiobooks including the first Kate Shugak and others in this series. Check out Dana Stabenow's blog and you'll find that she, too, is thrilled with Gavin's work, saying" Good news for audio book fans......Marguerite Gavin is BACK as narrator!" How true! The voice Gavin has found for Kate captures not only her fierce independence but her strength. The sound is strong, sonorous, yet at times verges on a studied hoarseness that reflects tension or a frightening situation. With Whisper To The Blood we find a Canadian gold mining company, Global Harvest Resources Inc., that has been buying up land inside Alaska's largest national park, simply known as "the Park." Residents don't care for this at all and remain unconvinced that it will be beneficial to them despite the efforts of a well liked ski champion Global Harvest has hired to bolster its pr. She's out there reminding everyone that gold is now selling for $900 an ounce, and the Company will be providing jobs for many. However, it doesn't help a pr campaign any when murder is involved - one of the dead had been vocally opposed to the mine. No surprise that Jim Chopin is called on to solve the killings and that Kate will be by his side. Muddying the waters even further are attacks on snowmobilers. As usual Kate and Jim have more on their plates than most find in several lifetimes, and it's spine-tingling pleasure to find out what they can do about it. Bestselling author and Edgar Award winner Stabenow demonstrates once again that she's tops in her field, springing surprises at every turn along with painterly descriptions of Alaska. Enjoy! - Gail Cooke
harstan More than 1 year ago
Aleut private detective Kate Shugak homesteads in the ¿Park¿ and though mentored by her grandmother to become the leader of their tribe and head of the Niniltna Native Association, she is more of a loner than a charismatic leader. Thus her personal issues are even more irritating to her as she struggles with the demands of her teenage foster son Johnny Morgan, and her State Trooper boyfriend Jim. However, their ¿bullying¿ her seems mild compared to the pleas of the four widow "Aunties" who are the ethical conscience of the residents of the ¿Park¿ and play on her scruples. She ignored their concerns before (see A DEEPER SLEEP) to her regret but still prefers to discount their latest apprehensions.

Canadian mining firm, Global Harvest Resources Inc is planning a large operation in the national park that impacts all the homesteaders. The Park residents are angry and some forms of vigilant justice surface with vicious snow machine robberies harming victims. On top of that, two homicides have further divided the developers from the locals. Kate investigates the murders and the violent robberies.

As always with the rugged regional Shugak mystery the investigation is excellent and the heroine¿s personal problems with relationships enhance her as a person with flaws. The eccentric cast augments the prime story line by providing insight into living in the Alaskan wilderness. That barren landscape comes alive as Dana Stabenow escorts her readers to the rugged side of Alaska that the recent election failed to showcase (see A DEEPER SLEEP).

Harriet Klausner
Auntjudithann More than 1 year ago
I would like to visit Alaska after reading Dana's books
books2luv More than 1 year ago
I love the Kate Shugak series. Ms. Stabenow gives a different perspective on Alaska and the many cultures living together in that state. If you haven't read her Kate Shugak books, I would recommend reading them in order to be able to get the most enjoyment and understanding of the characters and their evolvement.
SMc52 More than 1 year ago
I have enjoyed all of Stabenow's mysteries that include the character, Kate Shugak. Not only is Shugak a believable and intriquing protagonist, but what is also fascinating are the details about the Native Alaskan cultures and the environment in Alaska.I look forward with anticipation to future books by Stabenow.
Andrew_of_Dunedin More than 1 year ago
“Whisper to the Blood”, like many of Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak novels, is a murder mystery in which the crime typically takes a back seat to the internal development and experiences of Ms. Shugak and her friends.  This book seems to do so to an even greater extent – the murder(s) being secondary to the Park Rats' reactions to the possibility of a new gold mine being opened in the area.   In brief, fans of Kate and The Park should find this book to be another enjoyable view into the life and times of their favorite characters.  New readers would be better served starting earlier in the series and not jumping into it with this particular book. RATING: 3 1/2 stars, rounded up to 4 stars.
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Ace_Of_Hearts More than 1 year ago
Love the Kate Shugak series. Great bunch of lovable characters.
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I love this series, and in my opinion, each book gets better! Great plot, characters that are vivid and real, and with Alaska for the setting, well, how can you go wrong? Two thumbs up!!!
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mrsfozzy More than 1 year ago
have read whole series love kate and all the park rats
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