Warning: Spoilers spoken here.
winner of the 2012 Nero Award
Man, I havered over this one. My pick going in was the secret drawer, or drawers, the one in Auntie Joy’s armoire that contained the manuscript, the one in Jim’s father’s writing desk that held the clue to his true parentage, and of course the one in Old Sam’s compass, which Kate probably wouldn’t have found if Jim hadn’t found the one in his father’s writing desk first. You could even include where Old Sam hid the map, not exactly a drawer but a pretty efficient hidey-hole for anyone who didn’t know him as well as Kate did.
The secret drawers are of course emblematic of all the secrets held by the Shugak family in the Park, the Bannister family in Anchorage, Jim’s family in California, maybe by all families everywhere. You have a family. You know the ones. Google images for secret drawers; you’ll find a million of ’em. Secret drawers aren’t exactly a secret. Secrets never are, either.
But then Ginger said
I love where Old Sam hides the map and that Kate knows how he would have hidden it once she saw the the special hiding place in her aunts china cabinet that Old Sam made for her.
and Megan agreed, and so did Mary and Jody and Helen, and then Arlene practically wrote a dissertation about all the possible objects, concluding
the more I thought about it, the more it came to me that the manuscript encompassed everything: the icon, the nugget, Old Sam’s history, Auntie Joy’s history, the map, even if some of them are not explicitly mentioned in it…and all those things, one way or another, went toward making Kate who she is, even if she only learned about them in the course of this book.
This was a tough one.
I’m sticking with the secret drawers. After which I can be found hiding out under my bed.
Though Not Dead is my favorite of all the books I have ever written. I got to tell the last hundred years of Alaskan history through the eyes of a single character, something I’ve always wanted to do, and I got to send Kate on a scavenger hunt, which was a lot of fun, and then after I sent Jim off to California to get him out of the way he up and had an unexpected life of his own, which is always a gift from the writing gods. And then there is one of my favorite Kate scenes ever
The SUV was the second car back from the corner, behind the same electric pink Cadillac Seville that Kate had slipped in front of when it stalled out. It was driven by a woman with big hair who wore a sparkler on her right hand that gave out a series of blinding flashes as she tapped her hand on the steering wheel to Van Halen. She was still talking on her cell phone. The bass reverberated all the way back to the Subaru. The arrow was red but she was looking left at oncoming traffic, waiting for a gap to pull into.
Kate looked left and willed the driver of the white Bronco to look her way before the light turned green. He, too, was talking on his cell phone. She rolled down her window. “Hey! Hey, mister!”
He looked up and then over at her. She gave him her most dazzling smile and goosed the Subaru ahead a couple of inches, nodding at the lane.
He responded with a scowl and pulled up to within a whisker of the chrome bumper of the ancient Buick Skylark in front of him.
The light turned green. The electric pink Cadillac Seville started to turn, the SUV snarling bad-temperedly right behind it.
She looked back at the man in the Bronco, who was watching at her with a smirk on his face. He was still talking on his cell phone. Hell, every second person at this intersection was talking on their cell phone.
Kate grabbed the hem of her T-shirt and yanked it up to her neck and this time didn’t bother with the smile.
The smirk vanished. His cell phone dropped from his hand and his foot slipped off the clutch. The Bronco lurched and stalled. An older man in a panel truck in the lane next to him had seen the whole thing and was laughing so hard he had tears streaming down his face. She threw him his very own spine-melter of a smile as she pulled her T-shirt back down and slipped in behind the Skylark, which was already put-putting up to the light. She made it onto Tudor just as the light changed back to red, six cars behind the SUV.
Kate knows how to get the job done. Okay, enough with the bragging.
The 21st Kate Shugak novel, coming May 6, 2017.