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by Dana Stabenow
St Martin's Minotaur, October 2004
320 pages
ISBN: 0312306830

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Some series seem to lose steam after only a few books. Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak series, set in Alaska, is still going strong in A TAINT IN THE BLOOD, the 14th in the series. For those of you who live on the moon and have never heard of Kate or Dana, here, in the author's own words, is a description:

Kate Shugak is an Aleut who lives on a 160-acre homestead in a generic national Park in Alaska. Her roommate is a half-wolf, half-husky dog named Mutt. Her nearest neighbors are a bull moose and a grizzly sow. Farther off are dog mushers, miners, hunters, trappers, fishermen, bush pilots, pipeline workers, Park rats and Park rangers, other Aleuts, Athabascans, a few Tlingits and the residents of Niniltna, a village perched on the edge of the Kanuyaq River, a 600-mile long, salmon-rich tributary that winds through the Park to Prince William Sound. (from http://www.stabenow.com)

Kate is driving everyone crazy by trying to help all her friends and acquaintances who helped rebuild her cabin after a fire completely destroyed it. She finally flies home only to find Charlotte Bannister Mauravieff waiting for he at the door. Charlotte's mother has been in prison for over 30 years for setting a fire that killed one of her sons and injured the other. She is now dying of cancer and Charlotte would like her to get out of prison and die at home.

Kate agrees to take the case. After all, she is now a single mother. Despite her luxurious new cabin, with a refrigerator and shower, she needs cash to be able to send Johnny to college when the time comes. The Bannisters are an old Alaskan family and it never hurts to get on the right side of the politically connected.

With the help of Alaska State Trooper Jim Chopin, Kate gets the old police files on the crime and then goes to Anchorage to try to sort out the truth -- and also her relationship with Trooper Jim.

A TAINT IN THE BLOOD, unlike most of the other books in the series, doesn't take Kate to some other part of Alaska, nor does it have as much Aleut lore as some of the books in the series. It does deal with the interpersonal relationships of some of the people we have gotten to know in the last 13 books. May Dana Stabenow write many more Kate Shugak stories.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, July 2004

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