A Night Too Dark (Kate Shugak)
by Dana Stabenow
Review by Gayle Surrette
Minotaur Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312559090
Date: 16 February 2010 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The seventeenth in the Kate Shugak series, and Stabenow has yet to disappoint. A Night Too Dark has an underlying story that just about every reader can relate too -- change and how it affects your life and those around you. Kate is now chair of the Niniltna Native Association and what she understands with her head does not necessarily mean she accepts with her heart. The park is changing and Kate's on edge.
Suulutaq Mine is bringing in workers, but they're also employing many locals, and doing everything in their power to see that goods and services are passing through the park and the hands of the locals. Johnny even signs up for a summer job. But the mine is changing things too -- the workers can take their time off in town, crime is keeping Jim Chopin running ragged, it's more difficult to book a flight with the local air service, and some people are going missing.
When they find a body and it looks like a simple suicide, Jim hires Kate to identify the body and interview the mining staff for background. Everything seems cut and dried except Kate has a feeling things aren't what they seem. But without evidence to support her unease, the case is closed. Or rather, it's closed until the man they thought was dead stumbles out of the woods with no memory of what happened to him and suffering from PTS. Now Kate has something she can get her teeth into.
There's the usual cast of characters. Stabenow manages to pull you in and keep you immersed in the story. These characters, after sixteen books, are ones we know well and look forward to meeting again. Some we like. Some we don't. But they are familiar. With A Night Too Dark, Stabenow overwhelms the reader with change too. There's the familiar characters, but in different roles, doing different jobs. It keeps the reader off-center and finds Kate at the center, expressing and reacting as we do with all these changes.
As usual, there's the story being told -- a straight up intriguing mystery of misidentification, misdirection, and greed/power/revenge -- and there is also some underlying subplots, or rather issues that apply to the culture, environment, and political situation of Alaska.
I've always found that after closing the book, I have a lot of issues to think about that maybe I hadn't thought of before. To me that's the hallmark of a great story because you don't notice while reading that maybe you've just managed to get a glimpse of some other points of view on problems that you thought you'd stuffed into a pigeonhole in your mind.
Change is the only constant and Kate Shugak is learning that some changes are more difficult than others.