In A Deeper Sleep, her first novel since Blindfold Game, the stand-alone political thriller that made Dana Stabenow a New York Times bestseller, Stabenow returns to the popular and award-winning Kate Shugak series.
Kate, a private investigator, has been working on a case for the Anchorage District Attorney involving the murder of a young woman by her husband, a man named Louis Deem. Deem has been the subject of investigations before, and he's never been convicted of a crime. But Kate and her on-again, off-again lover, state trooper Jim Chopin, who arrested Deem, are convinced that this time it's different, and he'll finally be punished for his actions.
When the jury returns a verdict of not guilty, Kate and Jim are devastated, and like the rest of the citizens of Niniltna, Alaska, certain that a man has gotten away with murder. They can't help but think that it's only a matter of time before he's in the frame for another killing. Sure enough, a few weeks later a shooting leaves two dead in an apparent robbery. But this time Kate and Jim have a witness, and they're not going to let Louis Deem get away again. Or will he?
Dana Stabenow, Edgar Award-winning author and New York Times bestselling thriller writer, delivers a gripping page-turner about one town's search for justice--at any cost.
All the elements that have made the author's signature Kate Shugak crime series successful shine in this 15th entry (after 2004's A Taint in the Blood): Kate's personal growth as a woman and as an investigator; the Alaskan environment in all its unforgiving beauty; and a mystery whose solution remains in doubt until the end. The story opens with a brutal murder. The culprit, Louis Deem, who has managed to avoid justice for past crimes, is so odious that his presence is a cancer in the little Niniltna community Kate calls home. Stabenow's rich cast of supporting characters include natives and longtime settlers as well as those newcomers so unprepared that Kate refers to them as committing "suicide by Alaska." There is rough humor, a rich heritage of the community necessary for survival, and at the same time a remarkable tolerance for the many idiosyncrasies of those attracted to the harsh realities of Alaskan life. Kate Shugak is becoming a leader among her people and is already a leader in the sorority of women detectives. (Jan.)
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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January 01, 2008
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Excerpt from A Deeper Sleep by Dana Stabenow
This is just wrong, on so many levels, Jim thought.
For one thing, he was freezing his butt off. Even if the front of him was plenty warm.
For another, his boss might legitimately qualify his current activity as a colossal waste of Jim's time, not to mention the taxpayer's dollar. Crime had yet to be committed anywhere near or about his person.
If you didn't count the one he was about to commit if Kate kept rubbing up against him like that.
Her head was a very nice fit beneath his chin, even if her hair did tickle. She shifted again, and when he spoke, his voice was a little hoarse. "Are you sure you didn't get me out here under false pretenses, Shugak?"
He heard the smile in her voice when she replied, felt the warmth of her breath on his throat. "Well, since it seems crime is the only thing that makes my company tolerable to you, I figured I'd find some."
He disregarded what she said for what she meant. "I'm not afraid of you."
She tilted her head to meet his eyes. "I make you want to run away like a little girl."
"You do not." It sounded weak, even to him.
She leaned back against him, warm and firm from chest to knee, and dropped her voice to a whisper roughened by the scar that bisected her throat. "Say it again. And make me believe it."
He could have told her to step away. He could have pushed her away. He did not do either of those things, and the sound of the truck coming down the trail was the only thing that saved him.
And, sadly, Jim wasn't one bit happy when Kate's focus shifted, too.
It was an elderly blue Ford pickup minus tailgate and rear bumper, its passenger-side window replaced with an interwoven layer of duct tape, the body rusting out from the tires up. The engine, however, maintained a steady, confident rumble that indicated more beneath the peeling hood than met the eye.
The homeowner had dutifully cleared the requisite thirty feet of defensible space around her house in case of forest fires, which in this era of dramatic climatic change were inclined to hit interior Alaska early and often each spring. This and the winter's meager snowfall made it easy for the pickup to crunch through the thin layer of snow on the driveway and pull around to the back of the house, where half a dozen fifty-five-gallon drums rested in an upside-down pyramid on a solidly constructed two-by-four stand, connected to each other so that the fuel from the top drums ran down into the lower drums, with the bottom drum connected to the furnace in the house by an insulated length of copper tubing.
Kate and Jim had positioned themselves in a convenient stand of alders at the edge of the clearing, so they had a clear view of Willard Shugak as he got out of his truck, disconnected the copper tubing, connected a hose to the spigot, and began to siphon off the fuel in the drums on the stand to the black barrel tank in the back of his pickup.
Kate swore beneath her breath. Jim kept his arms around her so she'd shut up and stay put. When he judged that enough fuel had been transferred from the drums to the truck's tank to merit, at the $3.41 per gallon for diesel fuel he had last seen on an Ahtna pump, the definition of theft as provided for in the Alaska statutes, specifically 11.46.100, he said, "Shall we?" and turned her loose.
Willard looked up when they emerged from the alders. When he saw Kate, he went white and then red and then white again. "Oh shit," he said, his voice an insubstantial adolescent squeal that sounded odd coming out of the mouth of a forty-year-old man.
"At least," Kate said, boiling forward.
Willard Shugak was all of six feet tall, but he dodged around Jim, keeping the trooper between him and Kate. His voice went high enough to wake up bats. "No, Kate, wait, I--"
"You moron," Kate said, forgetting for the moment that Willard was almost exactly that, "what if Auntie Balasha came home to a cold house, her pipes all froze up?"
She reached for him and Willard backpedaled, stumbling and almost losing his balance, both hands up, palms out, in a placating gesture totally lost on its intended recipient. Jim watched, delaying official law enforcement action, mostly because he was enjoying the show.
"I wasn't going to take it all, honest I wasn't."
"You're not even out of oil," Kate said, cutting back around Jim and catching the cuff of Willard's jacket. "I went out to your place this morning and checked. You were going to sell it, weren't you, Willard?"
Willard yanked his arm free and darted back around Jim. "I would have paid Auntie back, honest I would!"
"Sure you would, you little weasel. Howie put you up to this because you were behind on the rent?" Kate feinted a move, Willard dodged back out of the way, and the Darth Vader action figure peeping out of his shirt pocket fell out and vanished into the churned-up snow.
Willard let out a cry of dismay. "Anakin!" He lumbered forward, his hands pawing wildly at the snow. Kate took advantage of his distraction and grabbed a handful of Willard's dirty blond hair to haul him upright.
"Ow! Kate! That hurts! Jim! Help!"