The History of Kate Shugak in 22 Objects – 19

Warning: Spoilers spoken here.

And a contest! With prizes! Scroll down for details.*


It’s the Super Cub. It’s basic transportation in Bush Alaska and in Kate19 it is also the murder weapon. (And even if you took all that away, there is that fabulous Head of Zeus cover above. Although if you’re taking off from an unfrozen lake you really should be on floats, not skis.)


This is my Dad in his Super Cub, Five-Zero-Papa, also known as The Hem’roid, because that’s what the Super Cub gives you when you spend a lot of time in the air in one. Dad was 6’4″ tall so he didn’t really climb into The Hem’roid so much as he put it on. If you were riding behind him, forget about seeing anything ahead, but he was always great about flying circles around anything he spotted that he knew you’d want to see out the side window, a black bear sow trying frantically to push her three cubs up a tree to get them away from the big bad airplane making noise overhead, two grizzlies slapping salmon out of the Theodore River, five moose sitting close together in a MatSu willow thicket, saving energy until the snow melted and the willow budded and there would be something for them to eat again.

If you’re an Alaskan pilot (more than 1 out of 100 of us are, have to be, 99 percent of the state has no roads) and you have a Super Cub there is almost nowhere you can’t land and almost no amount or kind of freight you can’t carry. I once saw a Super Cub take off down Seldovia Bay with 4X8 sheets of plywood strapped to both floats. Although Dad did quit hunting moose when he got The Hem’roid, because you can fit a whole caribou into the back of a Super Cub, whereas hauling out a moose takes more than one trip. Even as big an asshole as he was, Finn Grant was no dummy when it came to planes. Neither was his killer.

Thanks to Arlene for her great comment on cellphones and Ginger’s on the M4, but Megan and Susan have it this month.

*A contest! With prizes!

How you win…

March 22: Go to and make a case for the Kate22 object of your choice in the comments section at the bottom of the post. Winners will be chosen on the strength of their argument. You have a week so make it good!
March 29: The winners will be announced in a post on I will contact each winner for their snailmail address and have the prizes in the mail that day.
March 31: The winners will be announced again in March’s Roadhouse Report.

the 23rd Kate Shugak novel
coming April 11, 2023
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Dana View All →

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24 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Interesting and enjoyable piece and like Becky the photos help. Heading off to ponder which object from ‘Bad Blood’ to vote for. Thanks Dana.

  2. Back in the 60’s they sold a “build your own plane” kit. My uncle saved and saved and sent away and got one that he promptly started building in the living room, which my grandmother loved as you can imagine. He moved it out to the backyard and got it to run, but it never flew.
    So Bad Blood. My dad is a minister, and very much like you’ve written Anne Flanagan, which made her one of my favorite peripheral characters from her first appearance. So my first thought is Rev. Flanagan’s stole, but that’s not going to have meaning for anyone other than me. On the whole, I think I’m going to go with the river and the creek. It’s been the means of division of the villages, it’s their transportation, food source and life blood-and the weapon of the first murder, so there’s that.

  3. I agree with Megan on the river being a main focus in this book. My choice of the object from this book is the fish wheel. Poor Jim has to even get wet. Tyler being stuffed into the fish wheel just sticks in my mind. Dana’s great descriptive writing really puts an image of a person being stuffed into the fish firmly in your mind,

  4. The object I have in mind has yet to be mentioned, but it played a big part in shaping Kate’s personality. This object appeared throughout the series and ultimately was the reason both she and Mutt were shot at the end of Bad Blood. Whiskey. Alcohol. Booze. The evil firewater that Kate despises to her very core. Alcohol took Kate’s mother away from her and left her orphaned when she was only a small child. She sees it destroying the lives of her fellow park rats every day. Whiskey led to the confrontation with Pete “the bootlegger” and ultimately his death. This was the man that supplied alcohol to her mother. To Kate, justice was served and an evil element was removed from the park. Yet, Kenny Halvorsen become another victim of that fateful day. With Pete’s death, he and his brother had to fend for themselves. This fueled Kenny’s hatred toward Kate. A hatred that was palpable whenever Kate and Kenny were near each other. A hatred which ultimately led to the violent ending of Bad Blood.

  5. I’m going with the fish wheel. It unites, it divides, it’s traditional, it’s illegal, it’s a murder weapon, it’s a job, it’s a provider.
    But Penny makes a great case too.
    (A case could be made selecting the reaction of your readers to the cliffhanger ending.)

  6. I suppose an object can be used twice (fish wheel was the object in Killing Grounds), but would think Dana may think otherwise. I really like Penny ‘s thinking…alcohol.

  7. I am still going for a can of diet seven up. It is so important in Kate’s history. Her parent’s alcoholism has shaped her from the beginning. It is why she does what she does. It is part of her. It is part of the park. It pervades all of the books. For me it is an inescapable part of Kate and why these books exist. I don’t know Alaska – I live in the north west of England – about as far from the park as it’s possible to get. But I am the 4’11 daughter of an alcoholic. I KNOW Kate. The can of Diet Seven Up is too important to miss. It is probably why these books are so important to me. It’s personal. But – regardless of what you all decide – I still love these books and the can of diet seven up will be in my history of Kate Shugak!!

  8. Love the Kate series – now left hanging until the 21st one comes out – hoping that will be soon so we can all find out if Kate and Mutt are okay and going forward. Great books.

  9. I have to go with alcohol for this one. It’s the driving force behind two of the three deaths (not murders, as Rick’s death would have been manslaughter) in the book. Additionally, the deaths of Kate’s parents from alcoholism have played a major role in making Kate who she is. The very real problem of alcoholism in many Native Alaskan communities cannot be ignored — witness Jim’s comment than when Niniltna goes dry, his caseload drops by 80%.
    Finally, although it’s never explicitly spelled out that she did it, we can infer from hints in this book and others that it was Kate who disposed of the bootlegger Pete Liverakos, which led to the harrowing cliff-hanger with which “Bad Blood” ends.

    Thanks so much, Dana, for coming up with this project. It has been a pleasure to reread the series with such a specific focus, and has been really enjoyable to exercise my brain thinking about and exploring the symbolism, meaning, and importance of everything in the books.
    I’m sure there are people who would say, “Well, they’re ‘just’ murder mysteries. How much substance can there be in them?” Those people have obviously not read your books.
    Thanks again, and anxiously awaiting Kate21!

  10. We lived on Wasilla Lake, in a condo, many years ago (we’ve been in Ketchikan 17 years so that’ll give you an idea). There was a dock and each one of us had a slip. Two of the owners had small planes. One of them only came to visit one a year. Once when he came in our two granddaughters helped him tie up. They were so excited. We once had a military seaplane at Matsu Resort. They stopped for lunch. lol

    We live on a sailboat in Ketchikan so we are surrounded by planes. I’m going to miss living here. I am moving back to Louisville to be near the kids (2), grandkids (5) and great grandson (1) and one do in April.

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