A Deeper Sleep: A Kate Shugak Novel
Minotaur, 2007 (2007)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
A Taint in the Blood
as the fifteenth episode in Dana Stabenow's popular
series, set against the wild Alaskan wilderness. Kate has come a long way since the series began. She fell in love, despite her strong sense of independence, and lost her lover Jack Morgan in
. She grieved over several episodes, and adopted Jack's teen son Johnny, who now lives with her. Then the embers that always flared between Kate and commitment-phobic State Trooper Jim Chopin fanned into flame. For some time now, Kate has reversed roles with Jim, taking the aggressive part - and it's been great fun to watch Jim's terrified acceptance of his growing domesticity.
he villain of this piece is an old enemy of Kate's, Louis Deem. Charming on the surface, he endears himself to young women, weds them, abuses and kills them - and consistently gets away with it, by threatening the families of jury members and intimidating witnesses. Deem has two regular henchmen - Howie Katelnikof and Kate's mentally feeble relative, Willard Shugak, whose security blanket is his attachment to
figurines. Feeling guilt over her inability to protect Deem's previous victims - and told in no uncertain terms to do something by Auntie Vi - Kate is determined to stop Deem after he finds a new fiancée, Abigail Smith. Abigail is the eldest daughter of a large clan (seventeen kids) with an aversion to civilization, and (disputed) title to forty acres of land inside the Park boundary and bordering on an old gold mine.
hen a mother and son are murdered, and Johnny Morgan, who witnessed the shootings, identifies Deem as the killer. Kate and those close to her are threatened, and Louis Deem is acquitted once more, leading Jim Chopin to act outside the law, which he immediately regrets. It's always enjoyable spending time with Kate, Mutt, and her large extended family. This episode takes a hard look at abusive relationships, failure of the law, and vigilante action, in the best Alaskan tradition. As it ends, the tribal elders are on Kate's case to take a leadership role - as her Emaa always intended - to '
shepherd a tribe between the Scylla of government funding and the Charybidis of intertribal warfare
'. It will be fascinating to see how that evolves.
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