Dana Stabenow: Not the Ones Dead

Kate Shugak #23

Kate Shugak has been around for awhile now, and she’s made a space for herself on the planet.  She’s a fully realized, fully detailed character.  As I was reading this book, number 23 in a beloved series, I couldn’t help but think about the spectacular very first book, A Cold Day for Murder.  Dana Stabenow has always had a love for the traditional mystery in terms of plotting, and that hasn’t changed, though Kate’s universe has gotten more expansive.

At the moment, I’m re-reading (as time permits) Margaret Maron’s wonderful Deborah Knott series, and it struck me as I was reading that there were few series that actually resemble each other more.  Sure, Maron’s books are set in North Carolina, not Alaska, but the surrounding sense of community and family are very, very similar.  At this point I very much enjoy an outing with the “Aunties” or a look at the way Kate, Mutt and Trooper Jim spend their evenings.  But it’s a different type of read from the first couple of tightly plotted novels.  It’s more of a meander than a rocket. read more

Paige Shelton: Dark Night

This is the third in Paige Shelton’s insanely enjoyable Alaska wild series, set in tiny Benedict and featuring Beth Rivers, who is hiding out. She’d been kidnapped and got away, though sustaining a concussion and other injuries as well as suffering from PTSD.  She is wary when she arrives in Alaska but by book three has begun to relax into life in Benedict – more or less.

She had left the lower 48 after her kidnapping, leaving the hospital against her doctor’s orders and in fear of the man who took her, who so far in the series has not been captured (though I’m assuming that will eventually happen).  She’s also a well known writer under a pen name, so she’s able to maintain cover by writing the tiny town paper while using the paper’s “office” – a tiny shack behind the library (good wifi and cell phone coverage, which happens few other places in town).  She’s made a connection with the librarian, a stoner Willie Nelson type who nevertheless has some special ops skills as far as obtaining information goes. read more

Book Club: Thin Ice

Paige Shelton will join our book club via zoom on Sunday, May 16, at 2 p.m.  Message us on facebook or contact us at store (at) auntagathas.com for a zoom invitation.  We’ll be reading the first book in her Alaska Wild series, Thin Ice.   The second novel, Cold Wind, is nominated for a Mary Higgins Clark Award this year!

Here’s a precis of Thin Ice, and you can read my review of Cold Wind here.

Beth Rivers is on the run – she’s doing the only thing she could think of to keep herself safe. Known to the world as thriller author Elizabeth Fairchild, she had become the subject of a fanatic’s obsession. After being held in a van for three days by her kidnapper, Levi Brooks, Beth managed to escape, and until he is captured, she’s got to get away. Cold and remote, Alaska seems tailor-made for her to hideout. read more

Paige Shelton: Cold Wind

This is the second book in Paige Shelton’s series about thriller writer Elizabeth Fairchild, now in hiding in tiny Benedict, Alaska as Beth Rivers, after being kidnapped by a crazed fan.  Elizabeth/Beth lives in a halfway house and appreciates the privacy she finds in the Alaskan wild, a place that truly seems to be its own country, existing without a real nod to the rules and regulations more common in the lower 48.  Shelton, the author of four other cozier series than this one, is a real pro at narrative, pacing, and character.  These skills easily transfer to this series which is a bit darker in tone, and fits in more with work by writers like Ellen Hart, Dana Stabenow and Julia Spencer-Fleming. read more