Saturday, May 11, 2013

Restless in the Grave by Dana Stabenow

First Sentence:  They kept it simple.  They could cut off his right hand, or he could use it to learn how to fire the weapon they gave him.
           
PI Kate Shugak is surprised to receive a call from State Trooper Liam Campbell.  An even bigger surprise is being offered a job to investigate a murder; however, one of the possible suspects is Campbell’s wife.  Traveling to Niniltana and working undercover doesn’t seem so bad, except someone is taking strong exception to her presence and making that clear in very physical ways.  In spite of a handsome actor who is there, is soon becomes clear that the case of murder is only a small part of much bigger, uglier crimes.
           
As wonderful as are the characters of Kate and Mutt, it was a delight to have Liam Campbell and the cantankerous Moses, seer and master of tai-chi, back in the mix.  There is no question but that Stabenow creates wonderful characters; good and bad. 
           
Stabenow’s voice and humor bring humanity and balance to serious mysteries…”Kate marched them [the NNA board members] through old business like Alexander went through Asia…”.  At the same time, this book did not, in any way, lack for suspense. 
           
Dana Stabenow is an Alaskan who knows her state and its people.  Her descriptions are powerful and create a very strong sense of place.  Yet she also recognizes that life in Alaska is not for everyone…”Jim asked her [a perpetrator being extradited to another state] why she had confessed to charges that were five years old and three thousand miles away.  “I’m tired of Alaskan winters.” She said.”.  She also presents a very good look at the challenges, both in types of crimes and lack of manpower, policing Alaska. 
           
One element which may bother some readers is that she addresses the issue of gun ownership and gun control.  Some people might take exception to Kate’s views on guns, war, and those who fight.  She does bring up as aspect of which I was unaware, yet is very disturbing. 
           
“Restless in the Grave” is a very good book.  It is well plotted.  It follows both Kate and Chopper Jim’s cases, even though they are in different locations.  One of Jim’s cases very much mirrors a major case currently in the news.  It is suspenseful, yet with elements of humor, has great dialogue and excellent characters.  For being a 19th book, Ms. Stabenow has definitely not lost her touch.

RESTLESS IN THE GRAVE (Lic Invest-Kate Shugak/Liam Campbell-Alaska-Contemp) – VG
Stabenow, Dana – 19th in series
Minotaur Books, 2012

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