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by Dana Stabenow
St Martin's Minotaur, January 2007
272 pages
ISBN: 0312343221

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Louis Deem is on trial for murder. He's a bad guy who has been abusing women for years, but he always seems to slip out of the noose. He is found not guilty this time as well, even though all the residents of the region know he murdered his wife. In fact, he murdered at least three of them that they know of. Shortly after he is freed, a woman and her young son are killed with a shotgun.

The 14-year-old boy that has been murdered is a friend of Johnny, Kate Shugak's foster son, who says he saw Deem do it and picks him out of a line-up. It's not enough to hold Deem, whose new fiancee tells the court they were together at the time of the murder.

Kate and Alaska State Trooper Jim Chopin investigate. They want to find enough hard evidence to get Deem out of their hair. Meanwhile, all the Niniltna park rats want to help. They've had enough of Deem also. But Kate and Jim want to get him legally, so that he cannot escape on a technicality this time.

Kate is also being besieged by the 'aunties' the four elders from the local Aleuts. Ever since Kate's grandmother Ekaterina died, the tribal elders have been trying to force Kate to take her place on the Council, and, in fact, to lead it. Kate is too much of a private person to want to do this. She would rather help her friends and relatives quietly.

Stabenow, an Alaskan native (not Native) shows her love for Alaska and her knowledge of the history, people and places in every book she writes. This, the 15th in the Kate Shugak series, is no exception. You can start here and read it as a standalone, or go back to the beginning, and see how Kate has matured since we first met her, 14 years ago, in A COLD DAY FOR MURDER.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, December 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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