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on 12 April 2013
I hadn't heard of this series until Amazon recommended it to me in an email when 3 of the books were on offer. The series sounded interesting - a crime series with a strong female lead and canine sidekick definitely caught my eye. Although it was clearly picking it up mid-series I was prepared to give it a go, as from previous experience long running series tend to be the least dependent on having read previous instalments.

It didn't take me long to read, and I enjoyed the Alaskan setting and the interwoven details of the local customs and way of life. I warmed to feisty Kate and found there was enough reference back to earlier books for this one to stand alone. The ideas behind the story provided some good thought-provoking material, and made me wonder about how often investigations are given limited resources because of the victim involved.

However I have two criticisms. Firstly the end felt really abrupt, and I felt a bit short changed by it. I suspect that has to do with the additional books coming up, and that the narrative will continue, but this did detract slightly from it as a book you could pick up, enjoy and put down without venturing further into the series. Secondly it was distractingly littered with typos, from unnecessary punctuation marks and editing notes to words that looked like they had been changed by auto-correct. At one point Bernie becomes Beanie for a while. It's rare to find a faultless book but this one was particularly bad.

I did buy the next two books in the series at the same time as this one, and will definitely go on to read No 16 hoping that it has been better proofed, as there is plenty of good about this series.
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VINE VOICETOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 December 2012
For those who haven't previously read a Kate Shugak novel - a warning - this is not the place to start, the author assumes knowledge of the characters and some previous action. For those who have already spent time in Alaska with Kate, Jim, Mutt and the rest this is a really great addition to the series and I highly recommend that you read it.

This is not a long book but it is a gripping read and so well paced that the pages race by. The author continues to describe the Alaskan landscape with love and an understanding of the environment which makes it very real. The progression of Kate and Jim's relationship and a developing trust between them is very touching (and quite amusing). The familiar array of quirky Alaskan characters is joined by a few more eccentrics.

This is also a book which crams a lot of ideas into a short space of time. Questions raised within the book include : How reliable is witness evidence ? What do you do when a man seems to get away with crimes over and over again ? How much value do you put into the evidence of someone with a learning difficulty ? What do you feel like when you are involved in covering up a crime ? Is vigilantism ever justified ? How do you protect people when they don't see the risk and the law won't act ? How do you treat a friend who has abused your friendship for what you both think is a good cause ? What happens if you take revenge against the wrong person ? If you don't act against someone, are you responsible if he harms someone else ?

It is great to see a popular crime writer tackling some of these thorny issues in a novel because so often authors take for granted the notion that personal action against someone who you know is guilty is justified. For a quick and often amusing read there is a depth of thought in this crime novel which is unusual; combined with the great characterisation and the evocative landscape description this makes it a really good and engaging read.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 22 November 2011
Set in a National Park in Alaska, this series captures the isolation and at the same time, the sense of community in this place, where towns are damp, potlatches are held to remember the deceased, and moose marrow broth is the base ingredient in French onion soup.

Kate Shugak, the central character, is a Native Alaskan who is a PI and former police officer. Like the rest of the park residents she is outraged when Louis Deem, a smooth man who has had the misfortune to lose two young wives, is acquitted of the murder of his third wife. More than one person wishes the man dead.

Then a new family with several daughters and a possible stake in a gold claim moves into the park, illegally felling trees for a road and hand-building a cabin. They are befriended by the widower, to Kate's displeasure. She and State Trooper Jim Chopin, Kate's on-and-off lover, keep the man under observation. Two ne'er do wells who live with Deem but are more likeable, provide alibis when a bar is robbed and a woman and boy are shot dead. Johnny, Kate's adopted son, tells the police he is sure that he saw Deem robbing the bar. The danger of his position is underlined when Mutt, Kate's wolf dog, is shot and injured.

More than once the characters remark on global warming; they are able to drive roads which were previously only accessible by snowmobile during winter. Sadly it seems that whatever is changing, wife beating and greed are not. There are a couple of great incidental recipes, ideal food for staving off hunger in the cold outdoor land, which can be adapted by those of us who don't have moose meat in the freezer.
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on 21 May 2013
I am slowly working my way throught this series. All of the books are good and the writing is so vivid that I feel as though I've been to Kate's house. Kate is a PI, well respected in her community and a champion of the people. Each book, as with most 'series' is about a case in which Kate becomes involved so there is a slight 'sameness' about them. But then that's why most of us follow a particular author. Many characters appear in all of the books so that there is a definite feeling of continuity. I don't think that I've ever finished one book without having a sneak peek at the next one so that must say somehting about their addictiveness.
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on 30 April 2013
I came to this series part way through (no.15) which was possibly a little confusing, characters were introduced who were new to me but obviously not to regular readers. Having said that, it was easy to follow, there was a good, strong storyline, and the main character, Kate, was interesting and different. Will definitely read more by this writer and in this series.
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on 7 September 2015
I really enjoy Kate and her antics but this book was genuinely ruined for me by the appalling typos. At least they got the murder victims name right this time after calling her something else in book 14 but poor old Bernie the bar man was Beanie way too often and when they need an acute accent they should put it in and not write about it in brackets. I could go on and on. I really hope someone does look at all the submissions I make to let them know about these.
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on 24 March 2018
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on 9 February 2015
OK so I totally love these books, completely addicted etc and this is just as good as the other stories. However, what really ticked me off is that the proof reading has clearly been performed by an illiterate eg names switching between "Bearnie" and "Beanie" typesetting directions left in the script eg "accent grave" and lots of random typos. C'mon if its a professional publication at least do us the courtesy of proof reading it before you ask people to pay!
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on 1 July 2017
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on 28 May 2013
This writer never fails to keep the reader completely immersed in the lives of her characters. The poeple and the their way of life have become so much more alive and real to me because of this auther.Fascinating and entirely believable.Read the whole series to see what I mean.
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