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A Grave Denied: A Kate Shugak Novel [Hardcover]

Dana Stabenow
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 9 2003 Stabenow, Dana (Book 13)
Everyone knew Len Dreyer, a handyman for hire in the Park near Niniltna, Alaska, but no one knew anything else about him. Even Kate Shugak hired him to thin the trees on her 160-acre homestead and was planning to ask him to help build a small second cabin on her property for Johnny Morgan, a teenaged boy in her care. But she, the Park's unofficial p.i., seems to have known less about him than anyone.

Alaska is a place where anybody can bury his history and start fresh, and for any reason, but this particular mystery comes to light when Len Dreyer turns up murdered. His body is discovered, frozen solid, in the path of a receding glacier with the hole from a shotgun blast in his chest. No one even knew he was missing, but it turns out he's been missing for months.

Alaska State Trooper Jim Chopin asks Kate to help him dig into Dreyer's background, in the hope of finding some reason for his murder. She takes the case, mindful of the need for gainful employment as she copes with her responsibility for Johnny, a constant reminder of his father, her dead lover. Little does she imagine that by trying to provide for him she just might put him right in the path of danger.

A talented writer at the prime of her abilities, Stabenow delivers a masterful crime novel that turns out to be as much about living as it is about dying.

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Product Description

From 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. 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, Inc.

From Booklist

On an eighth-grade field trip to Grant Glacier in Alaska, students discover a corpse in an ice cave beneath the glacier. With too many cases, State Trooper Jim Chopin hires Aleut PI Kate Shugak to investigate. After discovering that the victim had a secret life, Kate becomes the killer's next target. In this thirteenth Shugak novel, Stabenow simultaneously builds on the series' strengths and moves in new directions. As before, she effectively combines a challenging, suspect-filled mystery with a vivid sense of place and some witty commentary on Alaskans. The field-trip premise gives her the opportunity to develop teenage supporting characters and to reflect sensitively on teen concerns. Fans will also enjoy the first tentative steps toward a wary romance between Jim and Kate. The wilderness settings and Kate's rugged independence will continue to attract fans of Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon series and Sue Henry's Jesse Arnold series (also set in Alaska). John Rowen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric and suspenseful Dec 8 2003
The Alaskan wilderness and the character of the people who live there form the heart of this latest Kate Shugak novel. It's spring in the Park, a breathtaking time of wildflowers and calving icebergs. Kate is feeling her way through parenting her dead lover's teenage son, Johnny Morgan, and possibly embarking on a romance with State Trooper Jim Chopin. Then a body is found beneath a melting glacier.
Everybody knew the dead man, Len Dreyer. As a talented handyman, his skills were in high demand. But, as Kate helps Jim investigate, she finds that while everyone praises his work, no one really knew him at all. This community of self-sufficient loners may be close, but it's not necessarily intimate.
This theme recurs again and again - during the investigation, but also in the human drama of Kate's prickly relationships with lovers, friends, her dead Aleut grandmother and her new son. Her independence is a property that requires a lot of room and good fences - with creaky gates.
The plot moves right along and danger threatens as Kate probes too deep. Though there's a little too much affectionate banter, there's also plenty of suspense and a disturbing, unexpected ending, but the power behind this one is magnificent Alaska - a place that sets its inhabitants apart.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Suspense undenied! Nov. 9 2003
After a few gruesome volumes, it's nice to see Stabenow back in form. As other reviewers noted, Kate's friend and sometime lover, State Trooper Jim Chopin, asks her to investigate a mysterious death: a man found frozen in an advancing glacier, his cabin burned. And when Kate begins to investigate, her own life and property also (literally) come under fire. The steps of Kate's investigation will appeal to fans of the whodunit genre, with an Alaskan flavor. Kate methodically visits possible suspects, each a source of color and sometimes humor. The solution of the case left me feeling happily satisfied, an increasingly rare response to books I see these days.
Stabenow relaxes and lets us have fun with Kate. At times, the novel's style made me think I was reading a cozy. The author finds humor in Kate's new parenting role, as she learns how to cope with a teenager she has inherited from previous novels. Some of the best scenes involve Kate's relationship with her dog, Mutt, a part-wolf who seems to read Kate's mind. As usual, the cast of characters holds our attention, with tiny subplots: Kate's best friend gets a visit from a (deliberately) long-lost brother and fourteen-year-old Johnny remains determined to stay with Kate, rather than his blood relatives. The endings seem realistic, not at all contrived.
It is SO nice to pick up a book that doesn't tempt me to skip pages, let alone peek at the ending. This one was a joy to read -- I kept wishing it wouldn't end!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not All the Chills Are Because of the Weather Oct. 19 2003
I love a good mystery series, which is why I wish I had made the acquaintance of Dana Stabenow and the marvelous Kate Shugak a long time ago. However, that oversight has now been corrected and you may be sure I'll be eagerly looking for more. I would also urge anyone who also has failed to make the acquaintance of these two to remedy the situation immediately.
When a quartet of middle-schoolers discovers a body under the Grant Glacier while on a field trip, Kate is drawn in on two counts. First, her ward Johnny, son of her dead lover, was one of the four. Second, State Trooper Jim Chopin wants her help. He wants Kate, too, but that's another issue.
Then someone burns Kate's cabin to the ground-and would have done the same to her and Johnny if they'd been home. Jim officially throws her off the case, but now it's become personal.
I'll be the first to admit that, for me, Alaska is one of those places I'd like to visit but wouldn't live in. I'm too fond of being warm. But this particular visit was well worth the trip, an engrossing and multi-layered story that to a degree brought to mind the television series Northern Exposure. The people who inhabit Ms. Stabenow's book have the same unique character quirks while still never edging beyond the boundaries of reality. Meeting them for the first time, in all their fierce independence and determination to give no more to the Powers That Be than is absolutely necessary, it's not at all hard to believe that a man could live among them for decades without anyone ever learning much more about him than his name.
Ms. Stabenow masterfully manages to untangle the basic mystery-who killed the handyman?
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In the cold and dangerous Alaskan landscape, a group of teenagers finds a corpse frozen at the edge of a glacier. After Johnny Morgan and his schoolmates make the gruesome discovery, the body is identified as local handyman Len Dreyer. State trooper Jim Chopin quickly calls in consulting investigator Kate Shugak to help him solve the case. Right away it is obvious from the huge bullet wound in Dreyer's chest that they are dealing with a murder. But why would anyone kill the man they all relied on for important work, big jobs and small? As Shugak works to answer this question, she soon realizes that while everyone in and around the Park is familiar with Dreyer, no one really knows him at all. And even a timeframe for the crime is difficult to construct as no one in the Park or in the nearby village of Niniltna even realized Dreyer was missing.
The Park is the national park where Shugak and others homestead. Shugak herself has a 160-acre homestead where she lives with her canine companion Mutt and now with Johnny Morgan, the fourteen-year-old son of her deceased lover. Smart and fiercely independent, Shugak takes on this case knowing that she is now responsible for housing and feeding Johnny in addition to herself. But in taking the case she exposes them both to extreme danger because somebody, perhaps Dreyer's killer, now wants her dead as well. Maybe Shugak is getting too close to the truth about this mysterious man.
Further complicating Shugak's work is her tense relationship with Chopin, a wannabe detective named Dandy Mike, the isolated lifestyles of the area residents, and her concern for Johnny and his well-being.
The truth about Dreyer's murder is as unexpected as it is shocking; the killer is as unlikely as it gets.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars one of the better ones
I find it difficult when the books aren't numbered. Is this one part of the series? Hard to tell from a sample. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Shirley
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Writer
I think that Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak novels are some of the best reading I have ever seen. I am a prolific reader, with fiction being one of my main hobbies. Read more
Published on May 1 2004 by Roger P. Cantley
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best of the best!
I just spent the weekend with this book. A part of the time was in reading, and a part of the time was thinking about what I had read--a compliment to this novel. Read more
Published on Jan. 5 2004 by Judith Lindenau
5.0 out of 5 stars Another enjoyable read
This author continues to provide great reading for her followers. Some parts are edge of the seat hold your breath and others deal with the family issues we all face. Read more
Published on Jan. 4 2004 by C. C. Tvorak
5.0 out of 5 stars Kate and Alaska Rock
Kate is an unusual female character who shows both her humanity and strength. The setting of each story in Alaska is like a travelogue inside of the very well written and plotted... Read more
Published on Dec 4 2003 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars "I'm a huge fan of this fun series!"
I have been following this fun series since it first came out and each book I read seems to get better and better. Thrilling from page to page, cover to cover, and book to book. Read more
Published on Sept. 27 2003 by Victoria Taylor Murray
3.0 out of 5 stars Sorry, folks. This one is disappointing.
   The 13th book in Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak Series is a murder mystery involving the death of Len Dreyer, an expert handyman whose frozen body, mutilated by a shotgun blast to... Read more
Published on Sept. 21 2003 by Roy E. Perry
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Kate Shugak novel
Fourteen-year-old Johnny Morgan is on a field trip with his class from school when he discovers a body hidden in a glacier. Read more
Published on Sept. 16 2003 by Karen Potts
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Winner for Stabenow!
This entry is number 13 in the Kate Shugak series. If you've enjoyed the previous 12 Kate Shugaks, then you'll love this entry. Read more
Published on Sept. 9 2003 by P. Bigelow
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