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Friday, August 28, 2020

Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak Series

After becoming so involved with Stabenow's first Kate Shugak book, I moved quickly into the second, third, and fourth.  Right, a bit obsessive, but I enjoyed them so much I couldn't quit.

A Fatal Thaw opened with a chilling murderer randomly shooting and killing with abandon.  Sadly close to the kind of thing we have become accustomed to hearing about and as horrifying and difficult to understand.

from description: "Soon, nine people will be dead, seemingly the victims of a random act of violence—until a routine ballistics test reveals that one of the murders was anything but random."

 One madman and one murder of opportunity disguised as part of the madman's killing spree.  Kate and Mutt (wolf/huskey mix) step in to investigate.  

Again, the glimpses into the culture of the Alaskan wilderness and indigenous people are informative and entertaining.  The potlatch (ceremonial feast) organized by Kate's grandmother was a beautiful and touching event as various tribes honored the deceased.

Shugak packs so much into these books and does it so skillfully: characterization, plot, and setting are so adeptly blended that the reader feels truly immersed in the story.



Dead in the Water has Kate undercover on a crabbing boat from which two young men have gone missing.

In addition to the mystery of what happened to the young men, the dangers and financial rewards of fishing and crabbing in Alaskan waters is made perfectly and frighteningly real.

"These conditions add up to the deadliest occupation in the United States -- 128 per 100,000 Alaskan fishermen perished on the job in 2007, 26 times the national average [source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health]. Fishing deaths also make up about a third of all occupational fatalities in Alaska each year." 

and "Crab pots and crab pot launchers are common sources of injuries. Fishermen get caught up in the coil lines. Working at the edge of the boat also puts them at risk of being swept off the deck and falling overboard."(source)

Also neatly intertwined with the plot is a history of the Aleut tribe and why they were removed from their original homes on the Aleutian Islands during WWII when Japanese troops occupied the islands of  Attu and Kiska.  The information about the Alaskan Scouts, a fascinating part of the defense of Alaska during the war was new to me.

"It wasn’t easy to become an Alaska Scout. The qualifications were stringent, and Castner handpicked them all—trappers, hunters, fishermen, dogsledders, miners, and prospectors. He also chose Native Alaskans—Aleuts, Eskimos, and American Indians. “They have one thing in common,” he said. “They’re tough.” (source)

Learning by reading fiction is the easiest and most memorable way to absorb history.  Well, it works for me because I can't resist checking things out. 



This time Kate is on the North Slope investigating drug-related deaths.  She has personal grievances against the Prudhoe Bay oil company, but as she learns more about how the company operates, she is impressed with the amenities for workers who must spend much of their time in the far north and its deadly cold. 

 Not my favorite, but still very good!








Next up is Play with Fire, and I am making an effort to delay ordering it.  I can feel myself weakening, however.  


19 comments:

  1. You're flying through this series! These books must be good. :)

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    1. They are good, and I like the characters immensely!

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  2. Oh boy, you are really on a roll here. I read a couple of her earliest books and liked them. Need to try a few more sometime.

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    1. I like learning while trying to solve the cases. :)

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  3. Sounds like a great series since you're reading them back to back. Will have to check out this series. :)

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    1. It is also nice that I don't have to wait a year or more between books. :)

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  4. These books sound so good! It's nice finding a series you can't get enough of. :)

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    1. It is nice to find a series that involves you and makes you want to read the next one quickly!

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  5. I like a story where the setting/extreme weather is a primary "character" and I wonder why I never read this series. I've seen her books at the library and the thrift shop so I think I'll give her a try soon. If I can't get the beginning book of the series, do you think it would still be enjoyable to jump in a newer title?

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    1. The books I've read so far each have a complete story arc, so I imagine the others are the same. The first book was a Kindle Unlimited, so it was free. The 2nd book was 4.99. I don't know if the library has them--I didn't check since I'm still not getting out much. :)

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  6. This sounds like a great series! I love learning history through books. I'm going to see if I can get the first few from our library. I have a feeling my husband will enjoy them, as well.

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    1. I hope you are able to find them! I've thoroughly enjoyed them so far and am looking forward to the next one. :)

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  7. This is a great series and I've read most of it. It was a favorite from way back. I haven't read all of them and have been considering starting at the beginning and reading through them again. I met Dana Stabenow at a book conference several years ago and that was a major highlight for me.

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    1. It caught my attention immediately,and I'm glad to know there are so many more to read. I imagine Dana Stabenow had a lot to say since she has such knowledge about Alaska and the culture from her own experience!

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  8. Like you, I absorb history best when it is in a fictional context.

    I haven't done it in a few years, but reading/binging a set of books in a series can be very satisfying! I am guessing you caved and got the next book, LOL.

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    1. :) I am still resisting because I have so many books in my Kindle that I need to get through, but I like knowing that the Stabenow books are there for my enjoyment!

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  9. Thanks! I'll maybe read the first and then see which ones become available to me afterwards.
    I go out 2xd a week for food/house shopping, mask on, sanitary gel in my pocket, and also walk my dog around the neighborhood every morning (I live in the country so never pass anyone on the road, except in cars). Sigh.... here's hoping 2021 brings us better news...

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    1. :) No, staying home and keeping safe is a priority for so many of us. Groceries are my only immediate needs and last week everyone I saw had on a mask--which was a big improvement from earlier in the summer. My niece is pregnant and her baby shower on Saturday was drive-by. Smart and safe, but sad that it couldn't have been more of a celebration.

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  10. I love it when you find a series you can't stop reading! I hope to check this one out!

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