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So Sure of Death    by Dana Stabenow order for
So Sure of Death
by Dana Stabenow
Order:  USA  Can
Signet, 2000 (1999)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

So Sure of Death follows Fire and Ice as the second of a series about Alaskan State Trooper Liam Campbell. He was sent to Newenham in an attempt to retrieve his career after a native family died on his watch, despite repeated requests for help. Though Campbell was dealing with a tough personal situation at the time, this does not excuse him in his own and others' eyes.

Now he lives in an abandoned and leaky fishing trawler (due to a severe housing shortage) and hopes to rekindle an old flame into a permanent relationship with Wy Chouinard, a local pilot. Stabenow keeps the story moving fast with not one, but two different murder scenes, along with the arrival in town of a new and attractive female State Trooper and Campbell's estranged air force father.

As in her Kate Shugak series, the strength of Stabenow's tale is not only its well realized plot, fast action and interesting relationships, but its local color. Newenham has the Yupik people, in particular the shaman Moses Alakuyak, who teaches Wy and Liam tai chi, sees too much of the future for comfort, and drinks too much to try and forget it. Then there is Moses' lover Bill. Well endowed owner of the Newenham bar/restaurant she is also the local magistrate and dispenser of rough justice.

One murder is of a family of local fishers (including children) and their crew. The second is that of a young worker at the Tulukaruk archaeological site near Chinook Air Force Base (where Liam's father is temporarily working). Though suspects are identified quickly, the villains fight back and both Liam and Wy are at risk.

If you like Kate Shugak, then you'll enjoy Liam Campbell. If you haven't encountered either yet, grab a few books and settle down for some very satisfying reading.
Review by Mary Ann Smyth

I just returned from a trip to Alaska. It is impossible to visit there and not run into a book written by Anchorage native Dana Stabenow.

I've read her work before and feel that she not only tells a good story but also depicts life as it really is in our forty-ninth state. So Sure of Death, 2nd in her State Trooper Liam Campbell series, starts off running and keeps the reader on the edge of their seat throughout. And, in spite of all the action, Liam has time to reflect on his past relationship with bush pilot Wyanet Chouinard. They are two strong personalities trying to find an even ground.

Liam is called to a boat where a whole family has been murdered, including two children. Wy finds a young archeological student murdered on one of her flights into the backcountry. The two cases intertwine and call for fancy flying on Wy's part and daring on Liam's. The trooper has an extra burden. With his estranged father in town, Liam has to decide between family and the environment when he realizes his father's reason for being in this remote part of the world.

The mystery is tightly written with wonderful descriptions of the wild country of Alaska. A few thoughtful insights into the future of Alaska made me stop to consider the author's words. The battle between male and female psyches, as it has from the beginning of time, continues in this book to the delight of this reader. Delving into the history and culture of the Native Alaskans was fascinating. Stanbenow makes it easy to learn while enjoying a truly good novel.

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