5 days ago
Saturday, April 24, 2010
36. Whisper to the Blood by Dana Stabenow
Whisper to the Blood is Dana Stabenow's sixteenth in the Kate Shugak series. And I have read them all. A few years ago, when all I read was mysteries, this would not have been too unusual, but now I struggle to read an entire series when there are so many other books that I have discovered waiting to be read. But I really like the character of Kate Shugak. She is a tiny fireball of energy and determination, intelligent and stubbborn. I like her independence and drive. I have to admit that I struggled with the series when one of my favorite characters died a few books ago, but I have come to terms with that and am moving on. In this book, Kate is still trying to figure out her relationship with Trooper Jim Chopin, a good-looking womanizer who is also puzzled by his fascination with Kate. While other Shugak books have included way too much explicit sex, this one only had one scene that was easily skipped. (So I don't know if it was too explicit or not, but it probably was.) While I'm not terribly interested in politics, I like the way Stabenow weaves Alaskan culture and issues into the story. The Park inhabitants, where Kate and her native relatives reside, face a change in their way of life when a gold mining company purchases a large lease and proposes to build an open-pit mine. While the mine will provide a thousand jobs for those in the area and promises some much needed prosperity, it also threatens the delicate eco-system of the surrounding mountains and rivers. Most of the tribal members live on dividends and their subsistence hunting and fishing. It is a recurring theme in the Shugak books and is not solved in this one either. The book describes an interesting culture and presents a credible look at life in Alaska. I know I'm not cut out for the frozen environment of our northern-most state, but I do enjoy reading about the people who do decide to make a life there. While the mystery was just so-so; I really liked this book for the dynamics that play out among the various characters; especially Kate's struggle to maintain her independence while being pulled into tribal politics.