The Singing of the Dead

The Singing of the DeadOrder from Amazon:
ISBN 0-312-20957-6

I have to admit, I love this book, it’s my favorite Kate so far. Even if Kate, may god forgive me, does go to work for an election campaign.

About the Dedication

Okay, he’s got his copy, so now I’m telling.

for Carl Marrs
high-school heartthrob
long-time friend
and the man who makes things happen

Book Excerpt

“What about protection?”

“What about it?”

For the first time she allowed herself to look angry. He admired her control. “How much can you give us?”

“Darlene, you worked for the AG. You know exactly how much protection we can give you.”

Her mouth thinned. “The threats are escalating, in delivery and in degree.”

“Yes.”

“Chances are he–or she–will try to make contact.”

“Chances are he–or she–already has.”

“What do you mean?”

He shrugged. “How long has Anne been on the campaign trail? She announced in June, didn’t she?”

“Yes.”

“What day in June?”

“The sixteenth.”

“The first of those envelopes is dated June twenty-seventh.”

She thought about it. “So he’s been following her since the beginning?”

“That’d be my guess. She’s been doing the usual things politicians do, going to church in Chitina, walking the bars in Cordova, shaking hands and kissing babies and promising to throw the bums out, like they all do…If you’re that worried, if you really think Anne’s in danger…”

She didn’t move. “What?”

“What about hiring security for the campaign?”

“You mean like guards?”

“I mean like one guard.” The one he was thinking of wouldn’t need any help.

She let go of the handle, and the door hissed closed on its hydraulic hinge. “You suggesting someone in particular?”

He just looked at her, and being a well-trained law enforcement professional of intensive and lengthy experience, was able to pinpoint the exact moment when realization dawned.

Also because she said, “Oh fuck, no.”

“She knows the Park,” Jim said. “Who she isn’t related to she’s drinking buddies with.” He thought of Amanda and Chick, Bobby and Dinah, Bernie. Old Sam, the quintessential Alaskan old fart, Auntie Vi, the quintessential Alaskan old fartette. Dan O’Brien, the only national park ranger in Alaska to survive the change of federal administrations and gain the affection if not the actual respect of Park rats. George Perry the air taxi pilot, next to whom Jim had stood on that airstrip south of Denali last September. He banished that memory the next instant, or told himself he had. “If she was a drinking kind of woman, that is.”

“Not her.”

“She’s probably related to Anne, come to that.”

Darlene’s voice rose. “Not her, Jim.”

He was surprised at her vehemence. “Who else?” he said. “She’s a teetotaler. She a local. She’s a Native. She has a reputation–”

“Oh yeah, she’s got a reputation, all right, a well-deserved one.”

“Took the words right out of my mouth.” Curious, the curse of any good cop, he went fishing. “You sound like you know her.”

She opened her mouth, met his eyes, and closed it again. “I knew her,” she said at last.

He waited hopefully. No weapon in the cop’s arsenal worked better than the expectant silence.

“We went to school together.”

He raised his eyebrows. “I didn’t know you were from Niniltna.”

“In Fairbanks. UAF.”

He gave a neutral kind of grunt, and waited again. In the ensuing stony silence, he wondered why the feud. If one person hating a second person who, so far as Jim knew, was indifferent to the first person’s existence, could be called a feud. Did Kate crib from Darlene’s test? Wear Darlene’s favorite sweater without permission? Steal Darlene’s boyfriend? It irritated him that he would like know, to add to his fund of Kate Shugak lore. Said irritation moved him to say, “Just a suggestion.”

“A bad one,” she snapped.

“No,” he said, suddenly weary. “Just a suggestion.”

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