The History of Kate Shugak in 20 Objects – 20

Warning: Spoilers spoken here.


Upon returning home from New York City in 1994, clutching A Cold Day for Murder‘s Edgar in a sweaty fist, almost the very first thing to appear in my mailbox was a letter from  Tony Hillerman, requesting a short story for the collection he was editing, The Mysterious West (now included in my s/s anthology here). So I wrote “Nooses Give,” whose events occur before Kate1, and whose characters inspired the skeleton plot from which I fleshed out this rewrite of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It brought the Kate Shugak series full circle back to where it began, at least chronologically, with the bootlegger who started it all. It seemed appropriate for the twentieth book, something of a landmark in a crime fiction series, or it was for me.

Booze is the worm in Alaska’s apple and it’s one of the threads that runs throughout this series. It is, alas, very much based in fact. You can buy a bottle of R&R in Anchorage for $10 today and sell it for $300 in the Bush tomorrow.


Booze (and pop, too, another sugar-based liquid that will rot out your teeth and your liver) makes up a significant amount of the freight shipped into the Bush.


Kate’s not kidding when she says she would wish away every last drop of alcohol in Alaska if she could. Penny wrote, “Alcohol took Kate’s mother away from her and left her orphaned when she was only a small child. She sees it destroying the lives of her fellow park rats every day.”

Yep. Sorry to end the Object series on a downer, but booze is the object from Bad Blood.

kate21-cover-artThe 21st Kate Shugak novel, coming May 6, 2017.


The History of Kate Shugak in 20 Objects – 19

Warning: Spoilers spoken here.


It’s the Super Cub. Has to be. It’s basic transportation in Bush Alaska and in Kate19 it is also the murder weapon. (And even if you took all that away, there is that fabulous Head of Zeus cover above. Although if you’re taking off from an unfrozen lake you really should be on floats, not skis.)


This is my Dad in his Super Cub, Five-Zero-Papa, also known as The Hem’roid, because that’s what the Super Cub gives you when you spend a lot of time in the air in one. Dad was 6’4″ tall so he didn’t really climb into The Hem’roid so much as he put it on. If you were riding behind him, forget about seeing anything ahead, but he was always great about flying circles around anything he spotted that he knew you’d want to see out the side window, a black bear sow trying frantically to push her three cubs up a tree to get them away from the big bad airplane making noise overhead, two grizzlies slapping salmon out of the Theodore River, five moose sitting close together in a MatSu willow thicket, saving energy until the snow melted and the willow budded and there would be something for them to eat again.

If you’re an Alaskan pilot (more than 1 out of 100 of us are, have to be, 99 percent of the state has no roads) and you have a Super Cub there is almost nowhere you can’t land and almost no amount or kind of freight you can’t carry. I once saw a Super Cub take off down Seldovia Bay with 4X8 sheets of plywood strapped to both floats. Although Dad did quit hunting moose when he got The Hem’roid, because you can fit a whole caribou into the back of a Super Cub, whereas hauling out a moose takes more than one trip. Even as big an asshole as he was, Finn Grant was no dummy when it came to planes. Neither was his killer.

Thanks to Arlene for her great comment on cellphones and Ginger’s on the M4, but Megan and Susan have it this month.

kate21-cover-artThe 21st Kate Shugak novel, coming May 6, 2017.


Booklist likes the Kate20/20 audio version


Issue: June 1, 2013
Bad Blood.
Stabenow, Dana (Author) and Gavin, Marguerite (Reader)
Feb 2013. Macmillan, CD, $29.99. (9781427229144).

In this twentieth Kate Shugak mystery, part-time private investigator Kate Shugak and Alaska state trooper Jim Chopin find themselves in the middle of a feud between neighboring Alaska villages while trying to solve the murder of a young man. After the dust clears, another man is dead and a young couple is missing. No one from either village is willing to aid the investigation, and the pair is fed false alibis at every turn. Gavin, the reader of previous series titles, is comfortable in Kate’s prickly skin. Gavin voices the native Aleut investigator in husky and no-nonsense tones but softens her register when Kate shows affection for Jim and expresses her love of the wilderness. Jim’s speech patterns go from controlled to frustrated as he confronts villagers who repeatedly thwart the investigation. Other characters receive distinguishing characteristics as the story moves to a cliff-hanger ending.— Candace Smith

Dana sez, “Another star turn for narrator Marguerite Gavin. Thank you again, Marguerite!”

And how nice is THAT?!!

Sunday before last, April 7th, thanks to Kate Shugak being the Kindle Daily Deal, this is what the Amazon.UK e-bestseller lists looked like:

Kate was holding down #1, #4 and #5 on the paid list and #5 on the free list.

Thank you, Amazon.UK, and thank you, UK readers!

I’ll always be there for you in e. I’d like to always be there for you in print, too.

I’m home now, after a series of blowout events for Bad Blood in Scottsdale, Tempe, Cave Creek, Prescott, Denver, Portland, Mesa, Tucson and Palmer, Alaska. I heard this question almost everywhere I went, at bookstores, libraries, the ASU writers conference, the Tucson book festival:

How would I rather you read my novels, in print or as e-books?

What I have said repeatedly and most sincerely here on, on my Facebook page, on the Danamaniacs page, and everywhere else I’ve been asked that question, is this:

I don’t care how you are reading, so long as you are reading. My feeling is that the more ways people can read books, the more books they will read.

I'm reading e-books on my iPhone nowadays myself.

However, it is actual bookstores selling actual books that host or co-host most author events, like this one:

This livestream is free, along with many other Poisoned Pen livestreamed events. You can watch as many of them as you want, as many times as you want, no charge.

Support the bookstore that gives you this experience free of charge by buying a book.

The only way to keep bookstores alive is to buy books from them. The only way to keep print books alive is to buy them from the bookstores who stock them and host events for the authors. Bookstores are why I’m still published in print.

I wouldn’t have seen you in Tucson and Portland and Denver and Scottsdale and Palmer and Prescott without a bookstore hosting or co-hosting the event.

I’ll always be there for you in e. I’d like to always be there for you in print, too.

Here’s where I buy books.
(Full disclosure: I also buy them on and at Barnes & Noble in Anchorage.
I know. I have a problem. One day at a time.)

The Poisoned Pen is my go-to mystery bookstore. They also have a NYT bestseller display up front, TOP curates a nice bookshelf of fantasy and science fiction, and they’ll order anything else you want. Join one of their book clubs. Subscribe to their newsletter. I frequently yank books right off their Staff Picks bookshelf.

When I get a yen for fantasy and science fiction, I go to Patrick Heffernan at Mysterious Galaxy. He posts reviews here. Seldom does he sell me a book I don’t love, or at the very least learn from.

At home, I get my books from the Homer Bookstore. Another great small town bookstore with a terrific staff who actually read the books they are selling, who know their customers and what we like, and who will call me in if you want me to sign a book for you.

Feel free to add your own favorite bookstores in the comments below,

and please do support them by buying books!

And you thought I was visiting all those bookstores just for you.

Bad Blood’s moment of glory

Here it is, in Sunday’s print edition of the New York Times:

The asterisk means I’m tied for 13, with no less than George R.R. Martin.
Listen hard, and you can hear my editor chanting, “Printed list! Printed list!”

Again, this would not have happened without you, the people who bellied up to the bookstore counter and ordered your Kate 20/20 neat. I can’t say this enough:

Thank you!

The best comment I have received so far on Bad Blood (or any book ever) is from Charlaine Harris, she of Sookie Stackhouse fame. “Hats off to you,” she writes. “Dana, you have balls of brass.”

FYI, I’ll be chatting about Bad Blood with the Danamaniacs on March 27th at 5pmAST/9pmEST. And yes, I will talk about the ending,
but no hints about what happens next.

Autographed first editions from the Poisoned Pen.

on Amazon.

on Barnes and Noble.

on iTunes.

on Kobo.

Click on “See event details” below to watch the livestream
of the slide show I narrated at The Poisoned Pen.

And because it has been so popular, I dare again to include a buy link for the Kate 20/20 mug with the Tsunami blend coffee.
Tsunami Blend, you will remember, is Chopper Jim’s favorite coffee.
Here’s what it looks like.

Bad Blood is #14 on this week’s NYT bestseller list!

*The asterisk means that Bad Blood is tied for 13. With George R.R. Martin, no less.

For all those who bellied up to the bookstore counter
and plunked down your hard-earned cash not only for Bad Blood
but for all twenty books in the Kate Shugak series:
You made this happen,
and this blog post slash love letter
is for you.

Thank you!

If by clever footwork you managed to elude
the online promotional onslaught for Bad Blood,
here are buy links for you:

Autographed first editions from the Poisoned Pen.

on Amazon.

on Barnes and Noble.

on iTunes.

on Kobo.

And click on “See event details” below to watch the livestream of the slide show I narrated on launch day at The Poisoned Pen. I had a good time with it, and I think everyone else did, too.