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Whisper to the Blood: A Kate Shugak Novel    by Dana Stabenow order for
Whisper to the Blood
by Dana Stabenow
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Kate Shugak is in fine fettle in Whisper to the Blood, sixteenth in Dana Stabenow's very popular series. She's enjoying her new home (built for her by the community after her previous cabin was burned down) with her sixteen-year-old foster son Johnny Morgan and (most nights) Alaska Trooper Jim Chopin, the well known serial womanizer, for whom she often does investigative work and with whom she has an uneasy relationship.

As this episode opens, the big news in the Park is the discovery of a gold mine in Iqaluk, and the intention of Global Harvest Resources Inc. to develop it. This will bring new jobs but there will also be an influx of outsiders to the Park and a heavy environmental footprint. The company has hired as its spokesperson lovely Olympic athlete Talia Macleod, who works hard at PR, while flirting with all and sundry, including Trooper Chopin. Naturally the Niniltna Native Association has a strong role to play - previously, Kate was inveigled into joining the Association Board. Now, she attends to find that she's been designated interim Chair - and she doesn't even know how to run a meeting.

I've always enjoyed Kate's relationship with her foster son, but it's getting much more interesting now that he's in his teens and can have exploits - and romances - of his own. Johnny's long time best bud in the Park, Vanessa Cox, has turned into an attractive young woman. After they are attacked by snowmobilers up the Kanuyaq River, Kate learns that there had been previous attacks and is very disturbed that she wasn't informed. A pattern of vigilanteism has developed since the killing of Louis Deem. Jim is keeping a secret about that case from Kate, as she is from him. And there are other secrets. Johnny recognizes a man, Dick Gallagher, who helped him when he ran away from his grandparents to join Kate in Alaska. Johnny helps him get a job with Talia Macleod - he means to tell Kate about the man (who makes Van uneasy) but there never seems to be an opportunity.

There are killings, associated with the mining company, and Jim and Kate learn something about the four Aunties (who essentially run the Park) that they really didn't want to know. But they solve the murders, Kate handles the Association, and they even learn who really did kill the infamous Louis Deem. Whisper to the Blood is one of the better episode in an excellent series that's still going strong.

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