Kate Shugak hires onto the staff of a political campaign to work security for a Native woman running for state senator. The candidate has been receiving anonymous threats, and Kate, who went to college with two of the staffers, is to become her shadow, watching the crowds at rallies and fundraisers. But just as she's getting started the campaign is rocked by the murder of their staff researcher, who, Kate discovers, was in possession of some damning information about the pasts of both candidates. In order to track the killer, Kate will have to delve into the past, in particular the grisly murder of a "good-time girl" during the Klondike Gold Rush in 1915. Little can she guess the impact a ninety-year-old unsolved case could have on a modern-day psychotic killer.
HThe background of a hard-fought political campaign in Alaska (where "in a gathering of four people there are five marriages, six divorces, and seven political parties") and the devastating effect of a century-old scandal on the candidates gives even greater depth than usual to Stabenow's 11th Kate Shugak mystery. Kate, slowly recovering from the death of her lover, Jack Morgan, in 2000's Midnight Come Again, is hired as a security expert by Anne Gordaoff, a state senate candidate of partial Native heritage who has received threatening letters. Also appealing to Kate for protection is Jack's teenage son, Johnny, who has run away from his abusive mother. When Gordaoff's future son-in-law and a woman doing background research for Gordaoff are murdered, Kate joins state trooper Jim Chopin and local police chief Ken Hazen in the investigation. The novel shifts effortlessly between the present and the past, tracing the career of one of the state's most notorious "good time girls" from the gold mining era. The author paints a strong, striking picture of the tough life in Alaska 100 years ago and the narrow choice offered women housekeeper or whore. The character of Angel Beecham, known as the Dawson Darling, is compellingly portrayed as a complex woman whose relationship to the contemporary characters is slyly revealed in the epilogue (but wait until you've finished the book to read it). With well-drawn characters, splendid scenery and an insider's knowledge of Alaskan history and politics, this fine novel ranks as one of Stabenow's best. (May 15) Forecast: Striking but rather generic jacket art may attract non-mystery readers, and planned national publicity should push Stabenow out of the "regional" category. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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May 18, 2002
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