Old Sam and Murray Morgan

This is one of those happy instances of the law of unintended writing consequences.

On page 271 of Though Not Dead, Old Sam tells Pappardelle, “I served in the Aleutians during the war. There wasn’t a lot to do, so every now and then to keep the enlisted out of trouble the brass would get the big idea to have educational talks by anyone they could sucker out of the ranks…One night this Signal Corps guy from Tacoma — what was his name? Morgan, that was it. Anyway, Morgan was some kind of writer or professor or something in real life and he gave us a talk about how the last shot fired in the American Civil War was fired in the Aleutians.

Murray Morgan was a real person, and lo and behold, I log on to my website one morning to find this message from Murray Morgan’s daughter, Lane:

A friend just told me that my dad, Murray Morgan, is a minor character (or a referenced person) person in Though Not Dead. Very cool. He was indeed in the ASC in the Aleutians at the same time as Dashiell Hammett. I look forward to reading the book and wish Murray were still around to see the reference.

It turns out Morgan wrote long letters home from the Aleutians and Lane has been posting them on line here.

This guy just lived and breathed good writing. I met him through his book, Confederate Raider in the North Pacific, which tells the story of the last shot fired in the Civil War, fired, yes, by Confederate Navy Captain James Waddell who was disrupting the enemy’s economy by sinking Yankee whaling ships in the North Pacific. It is full of delightful prose and terrific little word pictures of the characters involved. One example from page 14:

Richard Wright was not the type of man usually involved in conspiracy. A Liverpool merchant, prosperous and proud of his family, he had a burgher’s respect for safety and six per cent.

Another from page 26:

Charles Francis Adams, the American Minister to Great Britain, was more a precision instrument than a human being. A brilliant, polished New Englander, the son and grandson of presidents, compressed to the hardness of a diamond by the accumulated weight of family tradition, he served as the cutting edge of American diplomacy.

And this about Captain Waddell from page 38:

Waddell was startled by the dissension. A romantic, a believer in the glory of war, he could not understand men who were untempted by adventure.

There are many more similarly wonderful prose portraits, especially of Waddell and his crew, who are parfit, gentil knyghts without sacrificing any attention to their mission, which they fulfill to admiration while murdering no man nor outraging any woman. One of my favorite stories is the whaler which is under the command of the captain’s wife, the captain having died on the voyage. She has preserved his body in a barrel of whiskey so she can take him home and bury him in the family plot. Waddell sinks her ship, but he sees the lady and her pickled husband both landed safely on shore afterward. Marvelous stuff.

Due to what I’m beginning to believe is the almost suicidal shortsightedness of American publishing, Morgan’s book is no longer in print, but fear not because there are used copies galore available on Bookfinder.com. This is the best book written on this subject, and it is well worth the extra effort to acquire. Accept no substitute.

Kate Shugak is back.

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“The dialogue is smart, authentic, and reminiscent of Elmore Leonard.”
Publishers Weekly

“Crime fiction doesn’t get much better than this.”–Booklist

Kindle

iBooks

Nook

Kobo

And for those who prefer their books in print…me and Kate21 hc

Click here to order a signed copy.

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Ordering info for bookstores and libraries:

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About the audio edition:

Tantor Media will be publishing the audio version
of Less Than a Treason, and yes, before you ask,
Marguerite Gavin will be narrating.
You’ll have the buy link as soon as I do.

tantor-logo-190x62.png

The History of Kate Shugak in 20 Objects – 20

Warning: Spoilers spoken here.

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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.

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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.

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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.


 

And the Roadhouse Report is awaaaay!

Or it was on Monday. Reproduced here in full for your pre-ordering pleasure.

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logo-consumer writes:

Edgar-winner Stabenow’s richly nuanced, highly entertaining 21st Kate Shugak mystery (after 2013’s Bad Blood) finds the Alaskan PI, who’s recovering from a gunshot wound she suffered months before, enjoying her solitude at her isolated cabin at the foot of the Quilak Mountains when some unwelcome visitors, who call themselves “orienteers,” pass by. One of them, a woman whose looks remind Kate of Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina, seeks Kate’s aid after she tumbles off a ridge—and falls on a heap of human bones. The intrepid Kate packs up the scanty remains, which a variety of animals have picked clean, and heads for the nearest town. Soon a woman hires Kate to find her missing husband, and the plot goes off in some surprising directions from there. The book is sprinkled with wit, studded with exquisite descriptions of the rugged landscape, and filled with opinionated and endearing characters, including reality TV show producers, park rangers, geologists, and barkeeps. The dialogue is smart, authentic, and reminiscent of Elmore Leonard, had he trained his shrewdly ironic eye on the wilds of Alaska rather than the seamier side of Detroit. A line from a Robert Frost poem provided the title. (May)

Pre-order Kindle edition.

Pre-order iBook edition.

Pre-order Nook edition.

Pre-order Kobo edition.

And for those who prefer their books in print…

me and Kate21 hc

Kate21 selfie. With author.

…I’ll be signing the hardcover edition
at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore
at 2pm
on May 6th.

Click here for directions.

And if you can’t make it in person, click here to order your very own copy.
The PP gang know how to stick on a stamp.


Ordering info for bookstores and libraries:

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A bit of news that arrived in my inbox after the RR went out:

Tantor Media will be publishing the audio version
of Less Than a Treason, and yes, before you ask,
Marguerite Gavin will be narrating.
You’ll have the buy link as soon as I do.

tantor-logo-190x62.png

The History of Kate Shugak in 20 Objects – 19

Warning: Spoilers spoken here.

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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.)

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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.