Not the Ones Dead by Dana Stabenow is coming in April – a review

Back to the awesome Kate Shugak mysteries of old…

As Not the Ones Dead opens, a nasty incident involving Kate’s friend, Bobby Clark, one of the few Black men in the Park, makes it obvious that the outside world is tentacle-ing into the Park again in unpleasant ways. And the unpleasantness seems to be spreading. Are these incidents linked? Does the mysterious group that bought Demetri Totemoff’s Lodge have anything to do with this? And there sure seem to be a bunch of drones around. So when an extra body shows up at an airplane crash site, Kate is asked to investigate, and things get even more complicated. There are a lot of threads, but with her unique “sledgehammer” interrogation style, and helped out by her usual cast of co-conspirators, Kate figures it all out in the end.

I’ve been a big fan of the Kate Shugak mysteries since I discovered them in paperback back in the 1990s. But I have had a little bit of a mad-on going on with the series since Bad Blood, a few years back. So I am happy to report that Not the Ones Dead has me loving it again. This latest story has all of the elements that make Kate Shugak books something special: Kate’s smarts and snark and toughness; Mutt; the aunties (although Auntie Balasha and several other Park rats have succumbed to Covid-19); Mutt; the occasional laugh-out-loud moments of Park weirdness; Mutt; Kate’s relationships with Jim, Johnny, and Van; and on and on. Oh, and did I mention Mutt? And just as important, it doesn’t have the things I don’t like – which would primarily be the cliff-hanger ending of Bad Blood, followed by a period of several years without a follow-on book to resolve it…

All-in-all, I’m happy (and relieved) to give Not the Ones Dead a well-deserved five stars. Dana Stabenow’s love for Alaska and its inhabitants is obvious throughout and she has a deft touch with humor too. And although readers will have a general sense of what is going on rather early on, they will keep reading to find out the details, and how it all fits together. I highly recommend this book both for fans of the series, and for newcomers – although as with almost any series, newcomers might be a bit happier to start at the beginning and read through to this one. And finally, my thanks to the publishers, Head of Zeus, and to NetGalley for the advance review copy.

Buy: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada

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