Why Bad Blood ends the way it does.

I chatted with the Danamaniacs last Wednesday, and was reminded that Barbara Peters told me she didn’t want to be in the room when you all got to the end of Bad Blood. I told her not to worry, that I’d already been through the fire with Hunter’s Moon.

Now, as then, the, um, decibel level of your response is an enormous compliment to the series, and to me, whether you meant it that way or not. So thank you again.

This is what I told the ‘maniacs.


1. Newton was right. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. What Kate did in “Nooses Give” comes back to haunt her with a vengeance. Some times the reaction happens instantly, like a chain reaction in a nuclear bomb. Sometimes it takes years. As in Bad Blood.

2. Mickey Spillane said, “The last line sells the next book.” The ending of Bad Blood, dear readers, is what we in the trade call a hook. That last scene in Bad Blood sells the next book to you, but more importantly to me. There will be serious consequences, for Kate, for Mutt, for Jim, the aunties, and all the rest of the Park rats. I myself don’t know everything that happens next. I can’t wait to find out.

3. Kate has lost people, but she has never really looked into the abyss for herself. On a real, visceral level, she has never experienced that point every human being comes to, the realization that her time on this earth is not unlimited.

If you’re paying attention, a near-death experience will change your life. A lot you thought was important just falls away. You realize how much unfinished business you have to clean up, and how short your time is to get that done. You stop being afraid to say “I love you” to the people who matter.

Kate has always been good at paying attention, and there is plenty in her “Unfinished Business” column.

4. Hello? This is the Kate Shugak series? Whatever made you think anyone was safe in here?


5. I love to torture you.

The ‘maniacs will be posting a full transcript of the chat soon. Join them on Facebook and you can read it, too.

In the end, you could trust me to know what I’m doing. And if you just can’t, well, I’ll let Darth Vader speak for me:

“I find your lack of faith disturbing.”

Chatter Kate Shugak

Dana View All →

Author and founder of Storyknife.org.

588 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Now I know it’s fiction & I’ve got over the fact that yes some badies do get away with it & heroes do die (reflects life I guess) but what is bugging me most is what appears to be the longest living Wolf/Huskie on record!
    How old is Mutt? Even if the books are spanned over half the time you wrote them, she’s getting on a bit. I’m going to go back & read ‘a cold day for murder’ to see if I can work out the time scale lol.
    Looking forward to KS 21 & reading the LC books to keep me going; love your writing btw.
    Please don’t give up on Kate, I know it must get tedious thinking about the same character for nigh on 25 years (Agatha Christie allegedly was sick of Poirot by the end). It would great if you could at least give your faithful readers/fans a good end to the saga (doesn’t have to be soppy cos that’s not your style but positive, up-beat & true to the character).
    Thank you.

  2. I think I must have been reading Bad Blood a few years ago when I went unconscious and wound up in the hospital ICU. I remember parts of the book, but absolutely have no recollection of the end of it. So, re-reading it a few hours ago, I was shocked. That led me here to see if this was how you were going to end the series. I am grateful that you are not, but would remind you that many of your readers are older, like me, and may not be around when you finally get book 21 ready for publication–and that is simply unfair! Please hurry, I am aging by the minute! Incidentally I was at death’s door and the doctors pulled me through–old joke–but true. I looked around for a reason I was still alive and couldn’t come up with a thing, so I just stayed the same curmudgeon I have been for years. Thanks for all the fine books and even for the ones that weren’t so fine!

  3. Ms. Stabenow, thank you for your books, all of them!

    I just finished Bad Blood and am exhausted from the ending…just so grateful that you are working on KS 21. I am so attached to the characters I must admit it isn’t logical, but you have brought them, and Alaska so vividly to life for me . Thank you and I need methadone in the meantime.

  4. The copyright on Bad Blood is 2013. If you are working on number 21 what’s taking so long?? I LOVE that series, and was gutted at the end of that book. So…..how long?????

  5. I am like Larry Kelley above. I’m getting older (and sicker) and I NEED to know what happens to Kate and Mutt after Bad Blood. Please get your next Kate book out to us. By the way, I’m on my fourth read of the series. I’m begging you . . . .

  6. I am bankrupting myself buying the whole series for my kindle (I do hope you get some $$$) – on my third reading of the books – love your writing and love your characters. Delighted to hear Kate21 is on the way. Your books create a desire in me to get to Alaska – thank you.

    • I’m thrilled to hear you’re reading the whole series, Prue, but please don’t bankrupt yourself! You need to save a little bit for the next one…

      • I got them from the library first but I am one of those people who read well written books over and over again. Now I have to own them 🙂 . It is wet and cold here – midwinter in NZ – so today I am sitting on the sofa reading Play with Fire. Never fear – always will be enough to get the next one.

    • I feel that way too! I will never get to Alaska but every time I read one of those books I desperately want to go there!!!!

  7. I have read all ur Kate & Liam books several times & keep checking for the next one. I am as impatient as the rest of ur fans but hope the waiting is worth it. Doesn’t matter. I’ll keep waiting as long as it takes. Lorine in Virginia.

  8. I love your style. It just gathers me right in. I leave for an Alasks cruise and land trip to Danlie Aug 2016. I can hardly wait. As I can hardly wait for what you have Kate, Jim, and Mutt doing next!!

  9. Thank God Bad Blood was not the end of Kate!!!! Talk about a hook! I was just devastated at the end of it. So glad to hear there is another book on the way. Love your stories and I too will one day visit Alaska.

  10. As I sit in sunny Australia reading about the beauty of Alaska, I have become so involved with it, I forget that Kate and Mutt are works of fiction. They have become so real, so thank you for continuing their wonderful story. Can’t wait.

  11. Just finished my 3rd read of the series. As delightful as the first time. Take all the time you need to give these wonderful characters more life. Or not.

    Old Steve

  12. As I am in my last quarter century and not looking forward but living in the moment, I can relate to other members of our Shugat family. Life ebbs and flows but we want our favorite relatives to stay forever (or at least until we are gone). So introducing us to these wonderful but frustrating relatives, to the state of Alaska that is also now part of our family and to those ‘Maniacs who have joined us along the way. Am anxious to see you in Honolulu and hopefully those who can’t make it will send Sandi, Carolyn, Cathy O, or Cathy R., some questions to ask (interrogate) you. Have a productive and refreshing winter!

  13. I have purchased all of your books from Audible except 1 that can’t be gotten. Will the Singing of the Dead ever be released. I drive a lot and not always is there time for the written word as much as would like too. I have listened to what I do have at least 3 times around. I would love to include book 11 in my next go around. Thank you for some awesome listening and I await your next book .

  14. Dana, I absolutely love this series. I truly believe that if I went to Alaska I could walk into a bar somewhere and meet Kate and Bobby Clark and the Aunties. The end of Bad Blood left me gasping and I can’t wait until the new Kate comes out!

  15. I started reading your books as a result of Diana Gabaldon’s “Methadone List” recommendation. Over the past few months, I’ve read all the Kate Shugaks (so far), the Liam Campbell books, the Silk and Song trilogy, Blindfold Game, and I’m now reading Second Star. I love your humorous descriptions of quirky characters.

    it did me in when Rollo died…please make Mutt immortal. I am willing to suspend disbelief.

  16. Hi Dana, I’ve just had a thought (people nearby said they could hear something) we are all assuming Kate and Mutt did survive! there are lots of other great characters in the ‘Kate’ series worthy of recognition………..Naa it’s just a wicked thought isn’t it? Barry (England)

  17. Hi Dana just read Kate Shugak series.for the second time, Am eagerly awaiting book 21, that’s a lie, I am.desperately checking an waiting for book.21. I have recommended the series to other avid readers. Get writing, lib from.rainy Manchester, England

  18. I have been keeping up with Dana’s comments on her next Kate book. I have bought all of her books, the majority of them from audible to my ipod. I have read them so many times I’m almost word perfect. Thank you Dana!!!!!!. I am a voracious reader, have been from a young age. In the words of my greatgrandson, I am now in the red zone! Am hoping that I get to read more Dana Stabenow books!

  19. Dana
    Just finished Bad Blood. Was devestated at the ending until I read through the previous comments. I first found you and Kate at A Fatal Thaw. I hated it when Jack died. Love the insights to Alaska and native Alaskans. The scenery makes me want a trip to Alaska. I have turned many of my reader friend on to you and Kate.
    Also like Liam Campbell series and coast guard series (both of them. Would like more. ) I have all books in all three series.
    Are you close to a publishly date yet?
    I have never contacted a favorite author before. Glad to know this opportunity is available.

  20. I too am waiting not very patiently for Kate 21. I have loved them all over the years and reread them many times but I especially love Breakup which seems to fit my mental state at the end of winter. I reread it every year in early spring. Thank you for years of enjoyment.

  21. I was utterly distraught when you killed Trooper Jim off in Hunters’ Moon. It didn’t help that my husband had just died in a freak accident, but of course that one isn’t on you 🙂 Please resusitate Jim — I KNOW you can do this, since it’s fiction, if only by writing books set in earlier years.

    Neither Kate nor your readers will be able to live w/o Jim 🙂

  22. I’ve visited Alaska twice since reading the Kate series. It seems to be an enchanted place. Brutal… but magical at the same time. I’m trying not to hold my breath until we find out that Mutt is still alive.

  23. Oh thank heavens – life can begin again now that I know there is another Kate Shugak novel cosying up to a publication date. I love this series and, in anticipation of the new publication, I’ve started re-reading from number 1 so I can get all the characters back in my head (not that they ever really left). Thank you so much for your writing which brings great pleasure to so many avid readers.

  24. Just finished Bad Blood and all the comments above. So glad Kate survives and I’m thinking mutt does too! It’s so good to be able to breathe again!! Now I have to go buy the few books I’ve missed and get caught up. I’m pretty sure I have 18 of your Kate books and others. I’ll catch up soon. Love your writing and hope to see Alaska someday! Linda Wootton

  25. OMG I am Soooooooooooooo jonsing for the next Kate Shugak book. I started reading them about two months ago back to back. I have never loved a character as much as I do Kate and Mutt. I feel like they have become family and can’t stand the wait to find out what happens to them in book 21. Please hurry and get it done I don’t think my heart can take the waiting much longer. I read on average at least 100 books a year but I have never loved the characters like I do these. Dana you are by far one of my most beloved authors. Keep up the excellent writing.

  26. Oh Dana, please bring Kate and her crew back – I miss your Alaska scenery, history and most important the cast of characters. Mutt had pups how about Kate having a late in life baby !! Hope you get a change of heart, I think there are a lot of others like me just waiting for your Kate’s return. Thank you for all your past Kate books.

  27. I have really enjoyed this series of books. I’ll plan to read your other books as well. I see that you’ve been asked over and over again when the next book is due to hit the shelves. Do you have an eta for the book?

    I’m very eager to hear what happens to Kate, Mutt and Jim.


    Treva Winslow

    • Thanks so much, Treva. I’m coming up on the end of my Cleopatra book. When that’s in I’ll start Kate22. As for a pub date, it’ll be sometime late next year.

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