Why Bad Blood ends the way it does.

I chatted with the Danamaniacs last Wednesday, and was reminded that Barbara Peters told me she didn’t want to be in the room when you all got to the end of Bad Blood. I told her not to worry, that I’d already been through the fire with Hunter’s Moon.

Now, as then, the, um, decibel level of your response is an enormous compliment to the series, and to me, whether you meant it that way or not. So thank you again.

This is what I told the ‘maniacs.


1. Newton was right. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. What Kate did in “Nooses Give” comes back to haunt her with a vengeance. Some times the reaction happens instantly, like a chain reaction in a nuclear bomb. Sometimes it takes years. As in Bad Blood.

2. Mickey Spillane said, “The last line sells the next book.” The ending of Bad Blood, dear readers, is what we in the trade call a hook. That last scene in Bad Blood sells the next book to you, but more importantly to me. There will be serious consequences, for Kate, for Mutt, for Jim, the aunties, and all the rest of the Park rats. I myself don’t know everything that happens next. I can’t wait to find out.

3. Kate has lost people, but she has never really looked into the abyss for herself. On a real, visceral level, she has never experienced that point every human being comes to, the realization that her time on this earth is not unlimited.

If you’re paying attention, a near-death experience will change your life. A lot you thought was important just falls away. You realize how much unfinished business you have to clean up, and how short your time is to get that done. You stop being afraid to say “I love you” to the people who matter.

Kate has always been good at paying attention, and there is plenty in her “Unfinished Business” column.

4. Hello? This is the Kate Shugak series? Whatever made you think anyone was safe in here?


5. I love to torture you.

The ‘maniacs will be posting a full transcript of the chat soon. Join them on Facebook and you can read it, too.

In the end, you could trust me to know what I’m doing. And if you just can’t, well, I’ll let Darth Vader speak for me:

“I find your lack of faith disturbing.”

486 thoughts on “Why Bad Blood ends the way it does.

  1. Leith says:

    I adore your books. But if you kill off Mutt, I’m done with Kate and her series. I’m just too sensitive about beloved animals being killed off. Thankfully you have so many other books for me to enjoy!! You are my favourite author by far, and I read a lot!


  2. Patti McDonald says:

    I just finished Bad Blood, and rarely does a novel make me cry, “Noooo!” While I have complete faith that you will resolve the ending of Bad Blood into an enjoyable read, just…um……HURRY UP! ahahaha


  3. Hannah says:

    I live in England. I have read this series of books back to back over my break from teaching this summer. I just finished Bad Blood. I almost booked my family a trip to Alaska… I am mortified by the ending.


  4. ritajohnson5225@sbcglobal.net says:

    I ditto what all the others said. I would be dying for #21 even without the cliffhanger. Also, I really hope you’ll give us more Liams and COAST GUARDS! love ’em all.


  5. Dianne Ayres says:

    I have just finished book 20 and went looking for 21. OMG there isn’t one!!!I feel cheated as I am totally addicted. I live in Australia and my dream is to go to Alaska one day soon. I feel as if I know so much about it now. I have recommended your books to so many of my friends as they are equally enthralled with Alaska. So please Dana, write book 21 as soon as you can.


    • Maureen says:

      I’m a kiwi and I am just as hooked as my sister fan across the ditch! Stunned by this ending but hooked. Thank goodness there is a book 21 coming….as for visiting Alaska, when we get there we will never ask to have a photo taken with a local!


  6. akla says:

    Oh, goodness…I feel better!!! I read Bad Blood last summer just after having hip surgery. I was in pain. And then…poor Kate get shots and all goes black and, oh…terrible. Since last summer I’ve been hoping to see a new book…a Kate’s doing so much better kind of a book… Now, after finally, literally asking google “What happened to Kate Shugak?” and finding your website, I have hope and anticipation. All that said…you, Ms. Stabenow, are such a great author! Kate is one of my favorite characters. I’ve enjoyed all of her stories. Thanks.


  7. Terese Arntson says:

    Well Dana, it is 2015 and I finally got to read Bad Blood. Excellent as always, but I need #21!!! Please don’t kill off Kate or Mutt! Can you give us a hint as to when it will be done? I read and re-read all your books. Love them all! Thank you for many, many hours of joy. Terese


  8. Anita Mafoa says:

    Dana, you are truly a literary genious! I had never read any books that I wanted to reread until I discovered your Kate Shugak series. I fell in love with the setting as well as the characters and I have never laughed so hard, so long or so frequently as I have reading this series. I was so heart broken when I finished Bad Blood thinking that there may not be another one. I am soooo thrilled to know with certainty that the adventure isn’t over! Please keep them coming for as long as you can! I love you and your writing!


  9. Cynthia Litwer says:

    I echo the above comments. Love the series, and chagrined at the ending of “Bad Blood.” Will be watching for 21 about Kate and Mutt. 😊


  10. Lisa H says:

    Wow I’ve just discovered your books I have enjoyed them is an u der statement , loved them, the ups the downs of all the characters that you have brought to life
    Thank you, I look forward to the 21st book. With hopes that our loved Mutt and Kate and Jim survived


  11. Clara Edman says:

    I can’t imagine that “Bad Blood” would be the end. There are too many crazy and weird people in this serious to end like that. They all care and love Kate and would not let her die prematurely I do hope Jim nailed the bastard who shot at Mutt and Kate.


  12. Marty says:

    Dana, I too love your books. All of them, short stories too. A year or so ago you gave some travel tips for a week in Alaska. In Anchorage you recommended a native gift shop. I will be there next summer and would love to go there. We’ve also eaten at Simons twice, based on your mention and last summer ate at Capn Patties in Homer, also based on your recommendation. Please tell me the name of the gift shop and any other restaurant you recommend in Anchorage. Thanks, and waiting for 21.


  13. kate mears says:

    I have read all of the Shugak series and know now it is time to stop. I truly believe Mutt would better off without Kate. I found myself wishing that Mutt had left Kate at the hot springs, and she would go live out her days with the wild wolves. Running from hunters who shoot from planes, Mutt would still have a better life expectancy than staying with Kate.


  14. Heather says:

    Hi! Love the books and I love that Kate/Mutt combo and how bad ass they are. I know they cannot live forever but Please keep them alive 😀 It’s been a while since I’ve been this engaged in a series. So thank you sharing these amazing stories with us. Looking forward 2016! Heather


  15. John says:

    2016 for #21? At least you’ve given me hope- I was broken heated at the end of Bad Blood. You’ve been brutal- Emma, Sam, and then Moses. But Kate and Mutt, on the same page?? I can just hope that if Conan Doyle could do it, you can do it too.


      • Sara says:

        Thank goodness for that! I finished ‘Bad Blood’ last night and unless Kenny’s a terrible shot (unlikely) at least one of my favourite characters won’t be in the twenty-first. I’m very sad about that. Looking forward to reading it all the same to find out how the survivors cope with loss, so I hope the writing goes well. Good on you for creating such believable characters and thank you for all of your hard work.


  16. Mick Robinson says:

    I picked up the first 5 Kate Shugak novels and thought… Alaska… that should be good reading. By the time I had finished the 3rd i had ordered the rest of the series from my local book seller. I just finished Bad Blood after reading the entire series one straight after the other…. shock, horror… didn’t expect that. Bad Blood was published in 2013… it’s now 2015…. come on Dana… we need book 21. Jim and Kate getting hitched, with the plane and hangar and all the other 21st century changes to the Park.
    Great series and a great author


  17. Janet Puterbaugh says:

    I was up until 1 am finishing Bad Blood. I slept fretfully with a plethora of thoughts running through my brain. “Dead??? She can’t be dead, the Park Rats need her. And, Jim and Kate JUST found each other. And Johnny can’t lose both of his ‘parents’. And who will stand up to the Aunties? And Billy and Dinah and Katya NEED her. And no way in HELL can Erland Bannister get away without paying. ” I finally feel asleep, and upon awaking, started wondering again. Glad I found this. And glad Kevin Hearne told me to read your work.


  18. Rebecca Holman says:

    Just read someone’s list of the “most anticipated mystery books of 2016” and #21 wasn’t there! Wah. Obviously compiled by someone who has yet to discover Kate and Mutt and all of the other people in your fabulous books. I suppose we should take pity on him/her because this series is a tour de force. Like others who have commented, I’m impatient to learn how you get Kate out of this mess. Hope this finds you deep into plotting and writing dialog ’cause there are scads of us eagerly awaiting the result of your labors.


  19. Virginia says:

    LOVE the Kate Shugak series & was stunned with what happened to Mutt & Kate. However, I know Bad Blood isn’t the end of the series because earlier you wrote something like “later Kate would realize how much she was hated” (this is vague so no spoilers would be given). Thank You for sharing your wonderful imagination.


  20. Patricia says:

    I have never ever written to an author before, however I just wanted to say “thank you”. I came across you as a writer just last year (2015) and read all 20 Kate Shugak books one after the other (as well as the Liam Campbell and Star Svensdotter series). Oh the joy of finding a new author with a sturdy back catalogue to read!

    You captured my imagination with your descriptions, some seeming almost incidental, yet integral to both the story and the scene setting. I’ve looked at my atlas, Google Maps and Google streetview, at houses and plots of land for sale in Alaska, and I’ve read blogs; yes, you bring it to life. I feel I know Alaska, although clearly I don’t, not at all. What a gift to enable people to identify so clearly with somewhere on the other side of the world.

    My only quibble, one of US rather than UK English form I think, is your editor’s inability to use adjectives, adverbs, and other modes of speech correctly whilst still retaining the sense of fluidity in speech that your characters have. Sadly here in the UK we never ever get American published books proof-read for UK readers, and sometimes the differences are jarring, as if there were literary land-mines strewn across the pages.

    That aside, may I offer a huge thank you, and I can barely wait for book no. 21. A hook? Oh yes, and it’s caught us all – gladly!


  21. Nancy Schiwitz says:

    Am anxiously waiting to see what happens to Kate and Mutt next. Also am waiting for another Liam book. Love your writing style and your Alaskan subject matter and details. You and Jacqueline Winspear are at the top of my list of favored authors.


  22. Fran Jones says:

    I ‘found’ Kate a couple of years ago, read one, immediately bought all the other books (at the time) and have thoroughly enjoyed the ride, which has also led to me reading your other series. Just before Christmas I realised that there was one that I hadn’t got – the infamous number 20! To keep the suspense going, I re-read 1 – 19 before curling up with the ‘new’ one. Loved it again. Love watching the characters grow up, grow older, grow wiser (?) and, yes, sadly dying. I was so very torn by the ending – just how many times can one person (and one Mutt) survive such attacks? But I would be so sad to find that it really was the end for one or both. To make matters worse – Han Solo bit the dust and I have just started the last Tiffany Aching novel (from the magnificent and much lamented Terry Pratchett) only to find one of my favourite characters from his works being escorted off that mortal coil by Death by way of an intro! Worst Christmas ever? How much more can a person take? By the way, thanks for scattering hints and tips about other authors/books throughout. It has led me to several other books which I have thoroughly enjoyed as well.


  23. Shannon Means says:

    Yes indeed you have been through the fire with Hunter’s Moon and if you survived the vicious cussing I gave you after that one I guess you will survive the one I gave you after Bad Blood too. I threatened to stop reading this series after that but I find I’ve sort of conditionally forgiven you after reading the Silk Road series. They were good and very historical too. But they weren’t Kate and Mutt who I love above all else. So I’m offering a cease fire until I get to read the next Kate book. But watch out, your ears might start burning! I owe my friend Donna Kennemer for introducing me to this great author! Thanks, Donna and thanks Dana!


  24. Cate Simpson says:

    Ms. Dana,
    Just wanted to tell you that in all my many years as a reader, you rank with John D. MacDonald, Louis L’Amour, John Sandford and now Craig Johnson. You create worlds that completely engage the reader, and to my mind, that’s what a truly great book does. My husband and I have both read and re-read all of them so many times you’d think we’d quit. But they’re always just what I need! Thank you so much for all the years, the laughs and the tears. And since all my hard copies are pretty much in tatters, I guess I’ll start a Kindle collection now.


  25. Trish Dudgeon says:

    Thank you for saying there will be a book 21! I think anyone who has read your books appreciates the love you have for your characters and Alaska but it is KILLING me not knowing what happens next! However, I trust you need to take the time to ensure the story is told the way it needs to told. That being said… It is KILLING me not knowing what is going to happen next. Seriously though, thank you for writing people we can love and laugh with.


  26. Hi Ms. Dana! Thank you for taking my husband Jim and I, two practically native Floridians, on so many wonderful journeys through Alaska! We started the series out of order (by accident) and are avid listeners of your audiobooks. I thought Jim had already listened to the heart stopping #20, but when I asked him if he could believe how it ended, he said, “what do you mean?” So then I obviously realized he HADN’T listened to it, and am breathlessly waiting for him to finish, so we can talk about it! Now please take your time with #21, but we’re all waiting patiently for our heroes to make their triumphant returns! The Aunties of Orlando are starting to worry!😉


  27. Nora Trendel says:

    So happy that there will be another Kate book have been waiting to find out what really happens to them love all your books can’t wait for the new ones


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