The History of Kate Shugak in 20 Objects

And now, for something completely new and different—

Beginning today and the first Wednesday of every month for the next twenty months I will be posting a series of blog posts called “A History of Kate Shugak in Twenty Objects.” Each object will come from the book displayed that month. A Fatal Thaw will be April’s book, Dead in the Water will be May’s book, and like that.

[Click here for a list of the Kate Shugak novels in order.]

I’m picking the first object, obviously. But for the next 19 months, Danamaniacs are invited to leave suggestions for next month’s object. I’ll pick my favorite of your suggestions and it will go up here the first Wednesday of the following month.

WARNING: Spoilers spoken here. Continue reading

Seldovia Slough (Alaska)

Snerts: File down your fingernails.

Folks have asked for instructions on how to play Snerts.

Snerts is a multiple-player Solitaire game. Yes, really. You need at least four players to make it really fun.

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Sea chanties

A number of readers have expressed interest in the sea chanty Kate sings in Dead in the Water. The last time someone asked I promised to post the lyrics, so here goes:

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“The General says he wants you.”

The Collected Short StoriesTHE CALL CAME IN on Kate’s cell phone too early on a Monday morning. She was up but not necessarily coherent. “What?”

“It’s Kurt Pletnikof, Kate.”

“Your name on the display was the only reason I answered,” she said. “What?”

“Victor Boatwright’s son is missing.” Steam rose from her first mug of the day, stopped halfway to her mouth as she stared out the floor-to-ceiling windows on the south side of her house. The Quilak Mountains were as yet only a ghostly presence against the light of the rising sun. “Kate?”

“Then find him,” she said. “It’s what you do.”

“I did just mention that to him,” he said. “The General says he wants you.”

—”Any Taint of Vice”


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“Except maybe all the ones she put in jail, and sometimes I’m not so sure about them.”

The Collected Short Stories…although this dentist she took me to in Anchorage, Dorman, was okay, even if he was way too tan to be an Alaskan. He likes Kate, I can tell, but then every man she’s ever met likes her. Except maybe all the ones she put in jail, and sometimes I’m not so sure about them. Except if she’s never had a cavity I don’t know why she needs her own dentist. She sure was awful quick to get us on a plane when I got my toothache. Here’s the grossest picture I could find of a cavity on the Internet. Looks like a miniature of the Hellmouth.

—“The Eyak Interpreter”


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“…and enemies, which were legion.”

The Collected Short StoriesThe prosecution had rested the day before with an air of relief. The defense had recalled the investigating officer that morning, extracting without difficulty more evidence over time of many of Washington’s — the defense here coughed deprecatingly — family in the house at McKinley and Alder, as well as evidence of many more sets of smudged and partial prints not belonging to the defendants on the weapon. By the time the defense had excused the officer, opportunity had been extended to fifteen people, or more, if you included Da Prez’s friends, which were few, rivals, which were many, and enemies, which were legion.

—“Siren Song”


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Anybody should have been able to see it coming.

The Collected Short StoriesSergeant Jim Chopin said that fully a third of the local callouts to the Niniltna trooper post involved Dulcey Kineen in some way. Either she was enticing men at the Roadhouse to drink so she could drink with them, or she was seducing men away from their wives and sweethearts, or she was vamping men for cash, moose backstrap or a free ride to Ahtna with Costco privileges thrown in, or spurned suitors were getting drunk and wreaking mayhem and madness on a town too small to ignore either. The incident the previous winter involving Dulcey, Wasillie Peterkin and the road grader was still a painful subject to everyone concerned.

Dulcey and the Balluta brothers. Anybody should have been able to see it coming. But nobody did, until it was far too late.

—“Cherchez la Femme”


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