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Bad Blood    by Dana Stabenow order for
Bad Blood
by Dana Stabenow
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Bad Blood (the latest Kate Shugak mystery from Dana Stabenow) is an Alaskan Romeo & Juliet, but where Kate Shugak is involved, don't expect a typical Shakespearian ending.

It all began with 'Two villages, where two rivers meet', Kushtaka and Kuskulana. Over time, Kuskulana prospered while Kushtaka declined ... 'Geography informs who we are.' There were incidents and Hatfield/McCoy tensions escalated. Then comes murder at a fish wheel just after the victim, feckless young Tyler Mack, spots his cousin Jennifer on the wrong side of the river with Ryan, a Kuskulana Christianson.

Of course State Trooper Jim Chopin is summoned and flies in to the scene. No one claims to know anything. And he almost doesn't make it back again after the Kuskulana skiff he borrows to cross the river is sabotaged. Back in Niniltna, Kate encounters Anne Flanagan, newly licensed to be 'the new flying pastor for the Park.' In Kushtaka for the funeral, Anne is approached by the young lovers to perform a secret ceremony.

Chopper Jim is soon called out again (along with Kate and Mutt), this time to uncover a Kuskulana corpse, that of Mitch Halvorsen. His brother Kenny hates Kate, blaming her for all his family's troubles. There's another death, that of a young Kushtaka resident. Jim and Kate find links to bootleggers and drug runners in the Park. Desperate young lovers seek Kate's help. And tensions escalate to a bloodbath finale.

As always Dana Stabenow balances humorous moments with serious issues and an intriguing mystery, this time ending with a cliffhanger that will leave readers anxious for her next book. And she tantalizes both Kate and readers with the possibility of her meeting action movie star Gabe McGuire again (when they met in Restless in the Grave, Kate found him disturbingly like her dead love, Jack Morgan). I can't wait for more.

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