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A Grave Denied
Cover of A Grave Denied
A Grave Denied
Kate Shugak Series, Book 13
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Everyone knew Len Dreyer, a handyman for hire in the Park near Niniltna, Alaska, but no one knew anything else about him. Even Kate Shugak hired him to thin the trees on her 160-acre homestead and was planning to ask him to help build a small second cabin on her property for Johnny Morgan, a teenaged boy in her care. But she, the Park's unofficial p.i., seems to have known less about him than anyone.

Alaska is a place where anybody can bury his history and start fresh, and for any reason, but this particular mystery comes to light when Len Dreyer turns up murdered. His body is discovered, frozen solid, in the path of a receding glacier with the hole from a shotgun blast in his chest. No one even knew he was missing, but it turns out he's been missing for months.

Alaska State Trooper Jim Chopin asks Kate to help him dig into Dreyer's background, in the hope of finding some reason for his murder. She takes the case, mindful of the need for gainful employment as she copes with her responsibility for Johnny, a constant reminder of his father, her dead lover. Little does she imagine that by trying to provide for him she just might put him right in the path of danger.

A talented writer at the prime of her abilities, Stabenow delivers a masterful crime novel that turns out to be as much about living as it is about dying.

Everyone knew Len Dreyer, a handyman for hire in the Park near Niniltna, Alaska, but no one knew anything else about him. Even Kate Shugak hired him to thin the trees on her 160-acre homestead and was planning to ask him to help build a small second cabin on her property for Johnny Morgan, a teenaged boy in her care. But she, the Park's unofficial p.i., seems to have known less about him than anyone.

Alaska is a place where anybody can bury his history and start fresh, and for any reason, but this particular mystery comes to light when Len Dreyer turns up murdered. His body is discovered, frozen solid, in the path of a receding glacier with the hole from a shotgun blast in his chest. No one even knew he was missing, but it turns out he's been missing for months.

Alaska State Trooper Jim Chopin asks Kate to help him dig into Dreyer's background, in the hope of finding some reason for his murder. She takes the case, mindful of the need for gainful employment as she copes with her responsibility for Johnny, a constant reminder of his father, her dead lover. Little does she imagine that by trying to provide for him she just might put him right in the path of danger.

A talented writer at the prime of her abilities, Stabenow delivers a masterful crime novel that turns out to be as much about living as it is about dying.

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  • From the book From the book

    Ms. Doogan waited for the laughter to die down. "Think about this, boys and girls," she said, waving a hand at the glacier.

    "Seventy-five years ago? This little strip of beach we're picnicking on was under the glacier. That's right, under a big slab of ice just like that one. Your grandmas and grandpas couldn't have had a school picnic here." Eyes widened, measured the distance between the face of the glacier, a wall of ice a hundred feet high, and their beachfront picnic site. "Mother Nature doesn't waste time in the Kanuyaq River basin. How many of you remember last summer, when Grant Glacier thrust forward right over the lake?"

    Blank looks all around. Ms. Doogan tried not to let her ex-asperation show. These kids were living in the middle of a ge-ological experiment in progress. If only she could get some of them to notice, they could go on to make a living from it one day.

    They finished lunch and set out to explore. Ms. Doogan in-sisted that they go in groups of two or larger and stay in sight of her at all times, but beyond that they were free to wander as they chose, which added to the sense of it being more like a day off. Eric Kizzia ripped pages from his notebook and made paper sailboats to float in the lake, gathering other students to make a regatta out of it. Mary Lindbeck sat with her hands clasped around her knees and her face turned up to the sun. Others stretched out, some making notes, some napping.

    "Hey, look, here's a trail," Johnny said. "It looks like it goes around the lake to the mouth of the glacier. Want to go?"

    "Sure," Vanessa said.

    "I'll go, too," Andrea said.

    "And me," Betty said.

    Andrea scowled.

    Betty blinked.

    Johnny and Vanessa exchanged martyred looks. Johnny led off, with Vanessa behind. Somewhere along the route Andrea elbowed Vanessa to the rear. She tried to walk next to Johnny but the trail was too narrow, so instead she relied on tripping and slipping a lot. "Thanks," she said, the third time it happened. She smiled up at him as she used his hand to pull herself upright.

    "Sorry to be so clumsy." She turned the smile on Vanessa, who looked more than usually wooden of face.
    The next time Andrea tripped, Johnny stepped nimbly out of reach and Andrea went down on both knees. She didn't mind bleeding as much as she minded getting blood on her brand- new Gap khakis. Her language was unladylike.

    "Sorry about that," Johnny said, only he didn't sound sorry at A. "Hey, Van, look at this. Is this a lupine?"

    Betty shoved past both of them and peered at the slender green shoots, comparing them to the copy of Pratt's Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers she held open before her on the palms of both hands, like a priest consulting a sacred scroll. "Lupinus arc-ticus," she announced in the manner of one handing down a prophecy. "Of the pea or Fabaccae family. A perennial, which means it comes back every year."

    They gazed at her, stunned into silence by an oblivious self-assurance that allowed Betty to be convinced that they were as spellbound by the subject as she was. "The arctic lupine grows ten to sixteen inches tall, prefers dry slopes, fields, and roadsides, and is not to be confused with the Nootka lupine, which grows in Southeastern, Southcentral, and on the Chain." She frowned down at the plants. "I can't tell which this is. The pictures only show them in bloom." She displayed the book accusingly.

    "Yup, that's lupine," Johnny said, and Vanessa quickly fol-lowed his lead. "Lupine, definitely."

    Once more Andrea brushed ineffectually at the knees of her khakis and muttered dire imprecations to the fashion gods.

    Johnny...

About the Author-
  • Dana Stabenow is the New York Times bestselling author of the Kate Shugak mysteries and the Liam Campbell mysteries, as well as a few science fiction and thriller novels. Her book A Cold Day for Murder won an Edgar Award in 1994. Stabenow was born in Anchorage, Alaska and raised on a 75-foot fish tender in the Gulf of Alaska. She has a B.A. in journalism and an M.F.A. in writing from the University of Alaska. She has worked as an egg counter and bookkeeper for a seafood company, and worked on the TransAlaska pipeline before becoming a full-time writer. She continues to live in Alaska.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 14, 2003
    After a dozen mysteries featuring Aleut sleuth Kate Shugak, including the Edgar-winning debut A Cold Day for Murder
    (1992), Stabenow's framework remains simple, sound and effective. Take a strong-willed, independent woman and pit her against the beautiful and dangerous Alaskan wilderness and those, mainly men, who try to compromise her independence. Give her a faithful companion, Mutt, a half-wolf mixed breed, and an abiding sense of loyalty and fair play. One of the pleasures of the series is the tension that arises from the characters' need for both privacy and dependence on others. The result is closeness without intimacy, superbly illustrated when the body of Len Dreyer, town handyman, turns up at the mouth of a glacier. Only then does it become clear that the victim was a complete cipher. Challenges and changes also mark Kate's relationships with teenager Johnny Morgan, son of her late lover, Jack Morgan, and with state trooper Jim Chopin. Kate's professional training and investigative skills make her an able adjunct for the undermanned state police, but this time her efforts render her and Johnny and Mutt targets for a killer. Stabenow is a fine storyteller, but it is her passion for the Alaskan landscape and the iconoclastic people who inhabit it that fires this series and lifts this latest entry to its pinnacle. (Sept. 8)FYI:Stabenow is also the author of the Liam Campbell (Nothing Gold Can Stay) and the Star Svensdotter (Red Planet Run) mystery series.

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A Grave Denied
Kate Shugak Series, Book 13
Dana Stabenow
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