A Grave Denied: A Kate Shugak Novel Hardcover – Sep 9 2003
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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.
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
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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!
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?Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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 morePublished on May 1 2004 by Roger P. Cantley
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 morePublished on Jan. 5 2004 by Judith Lindenau
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 morePublished on Jan. 4 2004 by C. C. Tvorak
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 morePublished on Dec 4 2003 by Amazon Customer
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 morePublished on Sept. 27 2003 by Victoria Taylor Murray
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 morePublished on Sept. 21 2003 by Roy E. Perry
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 morePublished on Sept. 16 2003 by Karen Potts
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 morePublished on Sept. 9 2003 by P. Bigelow