The History of Kate Shugak in 22 Objects – 1

WARNING: Spoilers spoken here.


1. Game Bag

At first I was thinking a moose, because Abel hides the body in a game bag and Kate naturally mistakes it for a haunch of moose because what else would be in there? Then later, Kate thinks Martin killed Ken Dahl because Axenia hears Martin throwing something heavy into the creek, but it turns out it was a moose he hit and killed and he doesn’t want to get caught with it in the back of his pickup. Lastly there is that scene where Kate and Jack are driving out to the Lost Wife Mine and find a wolverine chewing on a downed moose calf. I’d call that a theme.

But Kate has close encounters with moose throughout the Kate Shugak series, including that time at the beginning of Blood Will Tell when she gets her annual moose in her own front yard. The moose in Alaska is so ubiquitous it should be the Alaska state mammal. Oh wait, look, it is. I wanted an object more specific to A Cold Day for Murder, and something significant to the mystery itself. I wanted (yes, I’m going to say it) —

— a clue.

That is one honking big clue there in Abel’s front yard. It’s the first thing Kate sees when she leaves her homestead for the first time back on the job in eighteen months, and it’s what closes the case for her when she finally connects all the dots. It’s just extra that a game bag is iconic Alaskana in and of itself.

So then I had to go on an image hunt. If you google “game bags” you get over 114 million hits. Click on “Images” and you can scroll down forever. Game bags are available everywhere, even on Amazon, but Cabela’s won the image race because they had a picture of a guy holding one up so the non-hunters among you could get an idea of size.

Cabela’s Deluxe Game Bag

But that looks a little pristine. I googled some more and found a picture of game bags in actual use.


Well? What else could possibly be in there?

the 23rd Kate Shugak novel
coming April 11, 2023
order your signed hardcover here
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105 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Hello…I am 65, and have been reading all my life. And I come back to the Kate Shugak/Dana Stabenow series every time! I love ’em!! I’m rereading them now and would love to read the 22nd Kate book! Thanks Dana!

  2. This is the best series I’ve ever read, and I’m 70 years old. I think I might be on my 4th? or 5th rereading of the whole series, in preparation for the new one. Thank you for hours and hours of great reading!

  3. I love these books – in fact I wish I could be Kate shugak! Even though I’m a 56 year old Yorkshire woman from the UK. Your books take me on new adventures. Love them!

  4. My husband and I (both in our 70’s) have reread the series 4 or 5 times and have started again. We have the complete series of each of your different series Liam Campbell, Silk & Song, along with the other stand alone books. Up until the Silk & Song books (Kindle eBooks)our’s have signed 1st edition. We have loved them so much we visited Alaska to see some of the areas.

    • What a wonderful compliment, Pam, thank you so much, and your husband, too! I should forward your message to the Alaska Chamber of Commerce. [grin]

  5. Having only visited Alaska once but also having been involved with the outdoors all my life (including a Montana childhood and a seasonal stint with NPS), your books have always grabbed me. Then you show me a cover with a (possible) C-47 / DC-3 and a woman sitting on the engine, and I’m as tightly captured as a pike on a huge treble hook. But then I have to wait ’til January to read it – AAAAaarrRRRGHHH!

    Oh well, for another romp with Kate, Jim, Bernie and the other denizens of the Park, it’s worth it. Keep up the great writing.

    (And I’m glad you’re not related to my former CEO Art Stabenow at now-defunct Micro Linear in San Jose. But didn’t you get some expert firearms advice from my old friend Chris Copeland way back when? Or was he just blowing smoke?)

    • Was Chris an FBI agent? No, that was Bob. Ask him when that was. Or which book. Or better yet, which weapon. So glad to hear you’re getting so much pleasure from the books, Mark. Music to any writer’s ears. (As for waiting until January, well, suffer. *evil snicker*)

  6. When there has been a long-ish period between the last book and the upcoming new release, I like to go back and re-read a series. I am re-reading two series now, Because their releases are imminent, but the Kate Shugak series is up next!!! I have been looking forward to it for quite a while!!!

    Thank you for Kate. Thank you for a wonderful series in a setting that I have never experienced, but have come to, perhaps, understand a bit through these books. You give us quite a gift with Kate and her friends.

    • You are very kind, Susan, thank you! I couldn’t do it without you–if a book is published and no one reads it, does it really exist? I think not. So thanks again!

  7. I love all the Kate stories. I read my first 3 on the way to Alaska in 1995. Loved them then and love them still. Some more than others but we all know how that works and doesn’t stop the enjoyment. This last book cover gives me the chills. I will read it but if I didn’t love Kate and Dana I would be put off by it. Can’t wait till January to find out.

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