This 18th novel in the Kate Shugak series features dozens of characters, ranging from a two-bit thug and a former “good-time girl” to a Chanel-suit wearing librarian and a soft-spoken aunty. Two or three of the characters appear both as wizened senior citizens, and in flashbacks from a half-century before as teenagers. In light of the intricate web of characters, narrator Marguerite Gavin’s ability to differentiate each voice is utterly impressive.
Gavin reprises here a role she’s performed in several other Stabenow novels: Kate Shugak, a no-nonsense, Aleutian private investigator. In the tradition of the best gritty procedurals, Kate doesn’t go looking for trouble trouble finds her. Gavin voices our hero with the perfect mix of brittle toughness, latent vulnerability, and the dogged fierceness peculiar to an ass-kicker who is also less than 5-foot-3 and 110 pounds. Kate has the quintessential tough broad attitude and analytical mind that make a great P.I., but Gavin also understands how to portray the uniqueness of Kate’s character within the detective novel genre: not only is Kate a female private investigator; she’s also a Native American.
Stabenow, who grew up in southern Alaska near the Chugach National Forest, deeply understands the values of the Aleutian community she's portraying, as well as the motivations of the "park rats" who live in the Chugach. Asking a park rat what brought him to Alaska is considered the height of rudeness in this culture. Knowing this, Gavin conveys reticence in her voice the reticence to speak up, to say more than one should, to trust someone extremely effectively. As the mystery unfolds, Gavin’s voice never betrays the next plot twist that is just around the corner. Even when Stabenow’s description veers toward hackneyed, Gavin finds a way to make the salient details stand out and keeps the listener engaged, providing a satisfying listen for crime novel fans. Maggie Frank
The residents of Alaska’s largest national park are stunned by the death of one of their oldest members, 87-year-old Old Sam Dementieff…even private investigator Kate Shugak. Sam, a lifelong resident, dubbed the “father” of all of the Park rats—even though he had no children of his own—was especially close to Kate, his niece, but even she is surprised to discover that in his will he’s left her everything, including a letter instructing her simply to, “find my father.”
Easier said than done, since Sam’s father is something of a mystery. An outsider, he disappeared shortly after learning about Sam’s existence, taking with him a priceless tribal artifact, a Russian icon. And in the three days after Kate begins her search through Sam’s background, she gets threatened—and worse.
The flashbacks from Sam’s fascinating life, including scenes from major events in Alaska’s colorful history, punctuate a gripping story in which Kate does her best to fulfill Sam’s last wish without losing her own life to the people who are following her every move, though what they are searching for Kate doesn’t even know.
In Dana Stabenow’s breathtaking new novel, Though Not Dead, the 18th to feature Kate Shugak, Kate’s search for the long-lost family secrets that have been interwoven with the epic history of an unforgiving land leads to an extraordinary treasure hunt with fatal consequences.
State of suspense: listen to more Alaskan mysteries in the Kate Shugak series.
©2011 Dana Stabenow (P)2011 Macmillan Audio
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This is one of the few series that, for me, hasn't become either the same-book-with-small-changes or a caricature of itself by the 4th book. The book is, of course, well written including all the craft of authorship and read, once again letter-perfectly, by Ms Gavin. Historical fact is woven superbly into the story without bogging down the tale.
"Though Not Dead: A Kate Shugak Novel"
In the beginning it was difficult to get used to the Alaskan words, once I caught on to the "lingo" I ran with the book. It is a complex story, just like real life is. I will read it again, and have recommended it to several of my reader friends.
"Love Kate and all around her!"
I have read or listened to all of the "Kate" books. I have a Kindle, but love this reader so much, I paid a little more to "listen". These books made me take a cruise to Alaska. I loved learning about "Old Sam" in his youth. Dana Stabenow ROCKS! Now I have to wait another year or so for more.
"Over The Top"
I love Alaska, and I have read a few of Stabenow's books before. The characters here are people I enjoy spending time with, but the story defies suspension of belief. Everything I could say by way of illustration would be a spoiler, but suffice it to say it's annoyingly repetitive. The susp It holds together as far as it goes, but I got the sense the author is getting bored with the series and it's getting to be more work than fun to write it.
This is well written book w/ a wonderful narrator (Gavin). Its not Tolstoy but instead is a good place to spend some time. As another reviewer wrote "not Nevada Barr", true but different and better in some ways. This is the first work I have heard from either the author of the reader, but I will take note and listen to more of their work. A bit complicated and implausible, but its fiction and a good read. Thanks to both the artists.
"My first Stabenow"
Took a chance on a new author and was pleasantly surprised. I understand there is a Kate Shugak series and I'll read some more of it. It was a fun crime thriller but the setting in Alaska, learning some of its history and hearing how the natives deal with the what I would consdier harsh elements was just as entertaiining.
I'm a fan of both Dana Stabenow and Kate Shugak and have read or listened to all of her books. As a former Alaskan resident, I appreciate the way she creates the setting and the characters so clearly without over-explaining things. Although you won't find all of the place names on maps, the settings and characters are authentically rendered. I no longer live in the Last Frontier, so I value the next installments that help us recall our time up there, and it is a welcome trip back. Gavin is a very good narrator for the series as well. I'm impressed that, after 18 books, she continues to find ways to develop and build on the characters and situations we have come to know. I've enjoyed Stabenow's other novels too, but I'm glad that she continues to bring us to Kate's world.
"Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak !!!"
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! This is my first exposure to Dana Stabenow's main character Kate Shugak! I really enjoy the setting of the story in the rugged Alaskan territory and it strong independent main character Kate Shugak. I'm excited about my uncovering Dana Stabenow's writing talents and have already explored adding more of her novels to my reading and listening collection. I will recommend this book and this writer to many of my friends.
"Old Sam sends Kate on a treasure hunt"
“Although Not Dead” was a wonderful, spirit-raising read. This is Kate Shugak at her best, following a quest, solving puzzles, exploring her family’s past, using her wits and her strength and her courage to take on the bad guys with only Mutt at her side.
This is the eighteenth book in this series. Some series start to feel written out at this stage: repeating ideas, keeping relationships so static that they start to feel like caricatures, becoming dull and predictable. None of this is true about the Kate Shugak series. The books keep getting better because Dana Stabenow’s stories are character-driven and she lets her characters, ALL of her characters, grow and change so that my understanding of Kate’s world becomes richer but, just like real life, never feels complete.
The plot of “Although Not Dead” is driven by the bequests of two dead men: Old Sam, who leaves all his property to Kate, along with a one-line instruction that sets her on a path to discover more about Old Sam’s past than she might want to know, and Jim Shugak’s father who leaves him an enigmatic gift that will change Jim’s understanding of his own childhood. Kate’s intense, sometimes combative, sometimes deferential, but always loving, relationship with Old Sam contrasts starkly with Jim’s emotionally barren childhood, the sterility of which is illustrated by the fact that Jim was at a sleep-over with friends before he discovered that parents hugged their children.
In previous books, including “The Singing Of The Dead” and “A Taint In The Blood” Dana Stabenow has made the history of Alaska as much a character in the novel as the dramatic landscape is but it has never worked so seamlessly as in “Although Not Dead”, perhaps because, this time, the history is seen directly through the eyes of Old Sam, one of my favourite characters in the series. We see The Aunties when they were young and had yet to earn the honorific. We learn how Sam came to own the Freya and why he spent so much time away from home. We come to understand his rugged independence and some of his loneliness. In some senses, “Although Not Dead” is like a wake for Old Sam. It gave me a sense of completion, off saying goodbye to him without forgetting him.
Kate and Jim are apart for most of the novel. This has two interesting consequences: it allows Kate to be reminded of her own strength and independence and it confirms to both of them that they are better together than apart.
There was a slapstick element to the book that I also enjoyed. Kate gets hit on the head so many times in this novel that she might as well be in a “Tom and Jerry” cartoon but it stays just this side of credible. I love the scene where she finally confronts her enemies and adds another chapter to the Kate Shugak legend by the way she drags them to justice.
This was such a good read that my only regret is that I have only two books left in the series. I’m rationing myself to one a month so that I can delay the inevitable withdrawal symptoms.
"I love Kate Shugak!"
I discovered Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak series by sheer accident when I bought Midnight Come Again. I loved Kate & Mutt so much I actively sought out all the other 'Shugak' books that Audible had & then hunted down the rest of the series from other sources. I even resorted to READING some of the books when I couldn't find audios!! Kate, Mutt & Jim Chopan make an excellent team of investigators but I don't think it's fair that Kate ends up with all the black eyes this time around. Marguerite Gavin is the perfect voice for all the action, Alaskan history, murder, mayhem, "Good Time Girls" & crazy families. I can't wait for the next one!
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