The History of Kate Shugak in 22 Objects – 20

Warning: Spoilers spoken here.
And a contest! With prizes!*


Upon returning home from New York City in 1994, clutching A Cold Day for Murder‘s Edgar in a sweaty fist, almost the very first thing to appear in my mailbox was a letter from  Tony Hillerman, requesting a short story for the collection he was editing, The Mysterious West (now included in my s/s anthology here). So I wrote “Nooses Give,” whose events occur before Kate1, and whose characters inspired the skeleton plot from which I fleshed out this rewrite of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It brought the Kate Shugak series full circle back to where it began, at least chronologically, with the bootlegger who started it all. It seemed appropriate for the twentieth book, something of a landmark in a crime fiction series, or it was for me.

Booze is the worm in Alaska’s apple and it’s one of the threads that runs throughout this series. It is, alas, very much based in fact. You can buy a bottle of R&R in Anchorage for $10 today and sell it for $300 in the Bush tomorrow.


Booze (and pop, too, another sugar-based liquid that will rot out your teeth and your liver) makes up a significant amount of the freight shipped into the Bush.


Kate’s not kidding when she says she would wish away every last drop of alcohol in Alaska if she could. Penny wrote, “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.”

Update on 3/16/23: Obviously, this book and this post were written before the opioid epidemic, which is exacerbating health issues in Alaska the same way it is everywhere else in the United States.

*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
order your signed hardcover here
Kindle US
Kindle UK

Chatter Kate Shugak Uncategorized

Dana View All →

Author and founder of

15 Comments Leave a comment

  1. This has been a fun and thought-provoking turn down memory lane, Dana. Clever idea and excellent run-up to Less Than a Treason, not that I could look forward to that more!

  2. Slightly off topic, but I miss Tony H, I loved his writing too. Two of my very favorite authors have died (Hillerman & Robert B Parker), two more are older (JA Jance & Louise Penny).
    Dana, you, Harlan Coben & Daniel Silva aren’t even allowed a simple cold!!!

  3. An unexpected ending to this sojourn through the Kate Shugak books, but a necessary one since alcohol use and abuse permeates the Alaska culture. Thanks for putting the History of Kate Shugak in Objects together for us and I eagerly look forward to Kate21.

  4. Fantastic trip through the books!

    March…our evilest month in Western NY will be a tad brighter…something to look forward to!!!

  5. Do you know in which book Kate is kidnapped by Erland Bannister? Somehow, I missed that one. Thanks for y our help.

  6. I was a long time fan, and as the saying goes, “dance with the one that brought you.” I feel like you left with my best friend at the last song when you have taken over 2 years to bring resolution to the last Kate book. Its as though you forgot about the loyal readers that stuck with you and are forgotten like the winter snow in August. I’m sorry to say, I have moved on. You took too long and disrespected those who gave their time, money and heart in following the Kate series. Godspeed.

  7. Sorry to go off topic but some strange reason the following books are not available on Audible?
    Midnight Come Again (2000)
    The Singing Of The Dead (2001)
    A Fine And Bitter Snow (2002)
    A Grave Denied (2003)
    Dana please do something
    Thank you

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