Bad Blood by Dana Stabenow

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Bad Blood by Dana Stabenow

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Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Ostensibly number 20 in the Kate Shugak series but in reality featurung rather more of Trooper Jim Chopin, it's best read in chronological order.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: March 2013
Publisher: Head of Zeus
ISBN: 978-1781851203

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You would think that if there were two villages side by side then they would be much of a muchness with lots of toing and froing between them and with regular intermarriages. It wasn't so with Kushtaka and Kuskulana in the Alaskan National Park. One village - well, a small township really - thrived, whilst the other, Kushtaka, went downhill. A hundred years of bad blood occasionally erupted into violence and there was little doubt that the responsibility for suspicious death of a teenager was down to the people of Kuskulana and that there would be vengeance. It was down to State Trooper Jim Chopin to find the culprit and prevent the inter-village warfare from escalating out of control.

I came late - well twenty years late - to Dana's Stabenow's Kate Shugak series. There's nothing I like better than a detective series which you can pick up and run with and this one had the bonus of originality. Kate Shugak is a native Aleut working as a private investigator. She's just over five feet tall, has previously had her throat cut from ear to ear and has a half-wolf/half Husky companion by the name of Mutt. I'd read the first three books in the twenty book series and I would normally have avoided the temptation to read the twentieth, but - the press release said that it was an ideal entry for new readers. So, did it work?

In her acknowledgements Stabenow says that she had problems with telling rather than showing before the book was edited and I don't think they were entirely cleared up. I've always been impressed by her ability to cut straight to the heart of the story but this time I'll confess to finding the opening just a little tedious with rather too much in the way of long- and short-term history. As a new reader this might well stand you in good stead, but I think you'd also find keeping up with the who's who and from where just a little difficult - and made even more confusing by the names of the two villages being so similar. If you've read part of the series I'd advise keeping the books in order - I kept suffering 'oh, no, So and So is dead' moments.

When I looked closely at the book cover of my review copy I realised that the name 'Kate Shugak' wasn't mentioned - anywhere, although it does seem to have been 'badged' on sale copies. Kate does take more of a backseat in this story which really centres on Jim Chopin and I did wonder if this might be the way that the series moves forward. Once we got into the story proper it moves along at a fine pace with plenty of red herrings and there's a finale which left me unable to sleep afterwards. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If you are planning on reading this book you might like to delay until you've read at least a few of the earlier books. It's no hardship, I promise and you'd do best to start with A Cold Day for Murder.

Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak Books in Chronological Order

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