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Midnight Come Again    by Dana Stabenow order for
Midnight Come Again
by Dana Stabenow
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2001 (2000)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Stabenow leaves Kate Shugak to grieve in peace at the beginning of Midnight Come Again, while she sets the scene in St. Petersburg, Russia. In fact we don't see Kate till much later. The story follows State Trooper Jim Chopin, who regularly helicoptered in to previous episodes, and it's fun seeing Kate from his point of view and getting to know him better.

Kate has disappeared, all her friends are worried, and Jim is trying to track her down. He succeeds only after being sent undercover to assist the FBI in Bering, a fishing village on the West coast of Alaska. Both Kate and Jim work for a seedy local operation, Baird Air, and Kate helps with Jim's investigation after he is injured. Kate meets an old school friend, whose grandfather knew her emaa very well. And that friend's talented ten year old daughter Stephanie looks like a promising new regular for the series.

Kate Shugak is a fiercely independent heroine with attitude, as tough as her native Alaskan roots. She has survived having her throat cut and enough beatings and concussions to put a normal person into a coma. As an aside I've always wondered how hard-boiled chicks manage the repeated knocks on the head. Surely the injuries eventually result in brain damage, but perhaps that's why these heroines keep on with the business they're in.

Seriously, the Kate who could not be slowed down by physical injuries has been severely damaged by the death of her lover Jack. She was only saved by the fact that her beloved dog Mutt survived. She came close to suicide and has sought forgetfulness in eighteen hour work days. She is hostile towards Jim when he appears on the scene, but his injury arouses her loyalty. Curiosity and another friend's murder pull her in further. And a determined Shugak always gets her villains, despite the fumbling FBI's suspicion that she is one of the bad guys.

The previous Shugak mystery,Hunter's Moon, was dark and disturbing. It was hard to see how the series could continue after such a serious blow to its main character. Unlike other writers of this genre, Stabenow does not gloss over the grieving process, but paints a credible picture of an individual who is damaged and will be slow to recover. But she also gives the reader hope that Kate will recover and might even, in time, develop a new relationship.

Stabenow has taken an international perspective in these last two works, with a German multinational in Hunter's Moon and the Russian mafia in Midnight Come Again. But she maintains the focus on Alaskan culture and customs that gives her books such richness and depth. It's a wonderful formula and Stabenow blends it successfully as always.
[ib:2nd Review by G. Hall
^bc]D]ana Stabenow is undoubtedly one of the pre-eminent American mystery writers today. Writing series about both Kate Shugak and Liam Campbell, she has won legions of fans for her mysteries set in Alaska. Though the mystique and far-off allure of this setting add to the books, her mysteries would be winners in any location.

Midnight Come Again features Kate Shugak, formerly an investigator in the Anchorage DA office and more recently a wilderness guide who, of course, also gets drawn into solving mysteries. This book follows the absolutely wrenching 1999 mystery in which Kate's long-term lover Jack is killed. Now, several months later, Kate has disappeared and all her friends are frightened.

When Alaska State Trooper Jim Chopin is sent hundreds of miles away to the small seaside town of Bering, he finds Kate working there for an air freight company. Although no longer in an almost catatonic state of grief, Kate is still in deep mourning and working all her waking hours to forget her loss. Chopin is undercover to find out what the Russian Mafioso Ivanov is up to in Bering. Against her will, Kate gets drawn into the mystery. When her old college friend is murdered after making some inquiries for Kate at the bank where she works, Kate's investigative instincts kick in. Soon both she and Chopin are in danger and the game is afoot.

Stabenow's book are so good, that you feel as if you want to keep reading them all at once to see how an old friend is doing. However, it is so much nicer to space them out and look forward to each new arrival as a special treat.

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