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Book Author: Dana Stabenow

NOT THE ONES DEAD by Dana Stabenow: Book Review

Reading a Kate Shugak mystery is like taking a tour of Alaska.  The gorgeous descriptions of the state and the love its inhabitants have for it will make you want to hop on the next flight to The Last Frontier.  But even in Alaska there is racism, greed, and murder.

The novel opens when Bobby Clark, a double-amputee military veteran, is returning home from a shopping trip to Ahtna, the nearest place to his home where one can buy the necessities of life.  He knows what he needs to do to keep his life running smoothly–bringing fillets of fish, jars of chutney, or slabs of raspberry cake to various people who would speak up for him if things went sideways.  It was &*%#@ exhausting to be black in America, he thinks.

He stops by Kate Shugak’s house to tell her about what happened on his ride home when his truck was almost pushed off the road by a red pickup traveling in the opposite direction.  He says they didn’t try to take over the road “until they saw who was behind the wheel.”  He heard men laughing, but they stopped soon enough when Bobby got out of the truck and pointed his HK (Heckler and Koch) gun at them.  The four men, all wearing desert camo, left in a hurry.

Kate promises to keep an eye out for the men in her role as a private investigator.  Jim Chopin, her significant other and a former Alaska state trooper, agrees to do the same, but both privately believe the incident was a one-off.  Unfortunately, they are wrong; when they are shopping the next day, they see several men dressed in the camo that Bobby mentioned, as well as the red truck that he’d described.

There are two more disturbing appearances by men in these outfits, one barring admittance to a trail to a hiking couple and one at the Roadhouse bar.  It appears that whatever this group is, they have decided to make themselves and their unwelcoming attitude known to all.  Then two events occur almost simultaneously–a fire that destroys the bar and a midair collision that kills all the passengers on both planes.

Since one of the pilots was a man in his 80s, there’s some talk that he was too old to be flying and that the crash was his fault, although everyone knew he was a very experienced pilot.  Kate wonders if there’s more to the crash than meets the eye, especially when the manifests of the planes show there were ten passengers, but eleven bodies are found on the ground.

To say Dana Stabenow is a prolific author is to understate it considerably.  There are more than 20 mysteries in the Kate Shugak series as well as several other novels, both mysteries and science fiction, that she has written.

You can read more about the author at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.