Dana Stabenow is a native of Alaska, and she wraps her stories in the mystery and wonder that her home state inspires. Imagine a place where a national park encompasses 20 million acres; where natives are given 160-acre homesteads teeming with wildlife and rich with trees and vegetation; where people can still live off the land because of the unspoiled habitats of the salmon and moose. During the winter, folks must survive on the provisions they have put away to see them through the months when travel is nearly impossible. It is here, on America's last frontier, where BAD BLOOD is set and played out by a familiar cast of characters, along with some new ones.
"Dana Stabenow has written many previous award-winning mysteries, yet she continues to present a fresh, uncluttered picture of life in the Alaskan Bush to her ever-growing number of fans. Anyone looking for a fast-paced adventure in a fascinating setting would do well to begin this exciting series of books."
As one might guess, the environment and cultural heritage of the Aleuts, Athabascans and a few smaller tribes have produced many interesting individuals. The traditionalists, the adventuresome and the rebellious all have a place in Alaska and in Stabenow's stories. Even those like Bobby Clark --- war hero, paraplegic and now the “voice of Park radio” --- are affected by the sheer awesomeness of this little known area of the United States. And all have developed their own unique characteristics designed to fit them in.
The Kushtakans and Kuskulanans have been at odds for a hundred years, and it seemed like only a matter of time before the bad blood between the tribes would lead to bloodshed. It happens when young Tyler Mack from the Kushtaka tribe is found stuffed into a basket of his uncle's fish wheel. Tyler's death is blamed on the Kuskulanans, regardless of the lack of apparent motive or evidence. Immediately the natural vigilance of the Kushtakans becomes hyper-vigilance. Meanwhile, the Kuskulanans prepare to be blamed for the death and devise ways to fortify their defenses.
Sergeant Jim Chopin is the Park lawman and is fully aware that neither of these tribes will be forthcoming when it comes to helping him discover the truth, as both sides being more interested in pointing fingers and casting blame. Since he is still considered an “outsider” by many of the Park rats (as they refer to themselves), he asks his friend and lover, Kate Shugak, to assist in questioning the families involved. As a former investigator for the District Attorney's office, Kate often has the skill and native savvy to prevail when Chopper Jim needs help.
As subsequent deaths occur, the mystery deepens and suspense builds when obvious leads prove to be dead ends. Added into the mix of Aleutian culture, traditional mores and familiar characters is a modern-day story of Romeo and Juliet. And, in addition to a drug and bootlegging operation gone awry, there are the constant moral and ethical questions that arise despite the story's unique location and situation.
Dana Stabenow has written many award-winning mysteries, yet she continues to present a fresh, uncluttered picture of life in the Alaskan Bush to her ever-growing number of fans. Anyone looking for a fast-paced adventure in a fascinating setting would do well to begin this exciting series of books.
Reviewed by Maggie Harding on March 1, 2013