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Bad Blood by Dana Stabenow: A Review and Summary of the 20th Kate Shugak Book

Bad Blood by Dana Stabenow: A Review

If you are looking for a gripping and suspenseful read that will take you to the wild and beautiful land of Alaska, you might want to check out Bad Blood by Dana Stabenow. This is the 20th book in the Kate Shugak series, but it can be read as a standalone novel. In this book, you will follow Kate Shugak, a native Aleut private investigator, as she tries to solve a murder case that threatens to ignite a war between two rival villages. Along the way, you will also meet Jim Chopin, a state trooper who is Kate's lover and partner in crime-solving, and other memorable characters who will make you laugh, cry, and gasp. In this review, I will give you a summary of the plot, an analysis of the themes, and an evaluation of the style and structure of Bad Blood. I will also answer some frequently asked questions about this book at the end.

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Summary of the plot

The story begins with a shocking discovery: the body of a young man named Tyler Mack is found wedged in a fish wheel on the Kanuyaq River. Tyler was from Kushtaka, one of the two villages that sit across the river from each other. The other village is Kuskulana, and there is a century-old feud between them that stems from a tragic incident involving a bridge collapse and a massacre. Tyler was also in love with Fiona Goulding, a girl from Kuskulana, and their relationship was frowned upon by both sides.

The prime suspect in Tyler's murder is Len Dreyer, Fiona's brother and a Kuskulana man who has been causing trouble in both villages. However, before he can be arrested, he disappears into the wilderness. Sergeant Jim Chopin, who is in charge of the investigation, calls on Kate Shugak for help. Kate is a former investigator for the Anchorage District Attorney's office who now works as a private eye. She is also Jim's lover and lives in a cabin near Niniltna, another village in the Park (the name given to an area of Alaska that is larger than many states).

Kate agrees to help Jim find Len and solve Tyler's murder. However, she soon realizes that this is not an easy task. The villagers of Kushtaka and Kuskulana are not cooperative; they are hostile, secretive, and loyal to their own. They also have their own laws and customs that clash with the state's. Moreover, there is a second murder that looks like a revenge killing, and the tension between the two villages escalates. Kate has to use her skills, intuition, and connections to unravel the mystery and prevent more bloodshed. She also has to deal with her own personal issues, such as her relationship with Jim, her health, and her heritage.

Analysis of the themes

One of the main themes of Bad Blood is the theme of love and loyalty. The characters in this book have to make difficult choices about who they love and who they are loyal to. For example, Tyler and Fiona have to defy their families and communities to be together. Len has to choose between his sister and his lover. Jim has to balance his duty as a lawman and his feelings for Kate. Kate has to decide whether she wants to commit to Jim or keep her independence. These choices have consequences that affect not only themselves but also others around them.

Another theme of Bad Blood is the theme of revenge and justice. The characters in this book have different views on what constitutes revenge and justice, and how they should be achieved. For example, the villagers of Kushtaka and Kuskulana believe in an eye for an eye, and they are willing to take matters into their own hands. They also have a long-standing grudge that fuels their hatred and violence. Jim, on the other hand, believes in the rule of law, and he tries to uphold it even when it is unpopular or ineffective. Kate, meanwhile, has a pragmatic approach; she knows that sometimes justice is not served by the system, and she is willing to bend the rules or use unconventional methods to get results.

A third theme of Bad Blood is the theme of culture and identity. The characters in this book have different backgrounds and identities that shape their perspectives and actions. For example, Kate is a native Aleut who is proud of her heritage but also aware of its challenges. She has to deal with racism, discrimination, and stereotypes from outsiders. She also has to cope with the changes and conflicts within her own community. Jim is a white man who is an outsider in the Park, but he respects and admires the native culture and people. He also tries to learn from them and adapt to their ways. The villagers of Kushtaka and Kuskulana are also native Alaskans who have their own traditions, beliefs, and values that differ from the mainstream society.

Evaluation of the style and structure

The style of Bad Blood is a blend of mystery, thriller, and crime fiction with a touch of humor and romance. The author uses a simple and clear language that is easy to follow and understand. She also uses dialogue, description, and action to create a vivid picture of Alaska, its people, and its culture. She injects humor into the story through witty remarks, funny situations, and quirky characters. She also adds romance into the story through the relationship between Kate and Jim, which is sweet, sexy, and realistic.

The structure of Bad Blood is a linear narrative with multiple points of view and flashbacks. The author uses the third-person omniscient point of view to tell the story from different perspectives, such as Kate's, Jim's, Tyler's, Len's, Fiona's, etc. This allows the reader to get a deeper insight into the characters' thoughts, feelings, motives, and actions. It also creates suspense and mystery by revealing information gradually and selectively. The author also uses flashbacks to provide background information on the history of the feud between Kushtaka and Kuskulana, as well as on some of the characters' pasts.

The strengths of Bad Blood are its vivid description of Alaska, its complex plot, and its strong female protagonist. The author does a great job of portraying Alaska as a beautiful but harsh land that is full of contrasts and challenges. She makes the reader feel like they are there with the characters, experiencing the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, weather, wildlife, etc. She also creates a complex plot that keeps the reader guessing until the end. She weaves together multiple threads of mystery, intrigue, action, romance, etc., into a coherent and satisfying whole. She also creates a strong female protagonist in Kate Shugak who is smart, brave, resourceful, independent, loyal,and compassionate.

stereotypes, and loose ends. The author uses some clichés in the story, such as the star-crossed lovers, the feuding families, the corrupt politician, the wise old man, etc. These clichés make the story predictable and unoriginal at times. The author also uses some stereotypes in the story, such as the drunk native, the greedy oilman, the nosy reporter, the loyal dog, etc. These stereotypes make the story simplistic and unrealistic at times. The author also leaves some loose ends in the story, such as the fate of some minor characters, the motive of some villains, the origin of some clues, etc. These loose ends make the story incomplete and unsatisfying at times.


In conclusion, Bad Blood by Dana Stabenow is a thrilling and entertaining read that will take you to the heart of Alaska and its people. It is a book that combines mystery, thriller, and crime fiction with humor and romance. It has a vivid description of Alaska, a complex plot, and a strong female protagonist. It also has some clichés, stereotypes, and loose ends that may affect your enjoyment of the story. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good mystery with a twist of Alaska.


  • Where can I download Bad Blood by Dana Stabenow in epub format?

You can download Bad Blood by Dana Stabenow in epub format from various online sources, such as Amazon Kindle Store, Barnes & Noble Nook Store, Google Play Books Store, Kobo Books Store, etc. However, you may need to pay a fee or sign up for a subscription to access these sources. Alternatively, you can borrow Bad Blood by Dana Stabenow in epub format from your local library or an online library service, such as OverDrive or Hoopla.

  • How many books are there in the Kate Shugak series?

There are currently 23 books in the Kate Shugak series by Dana Stabenow. The first book is A Cold Day for Murder, which was published in 1992. The latest book is Spoils of the Dead, which was published in 2021. The author is still writing more books for the series.

  • Is Bad Blood based on a true story?

No, Bad Blood is not based on a true story. It is a fictional story that was inspired by the author's imagination and research. However, some of the elements in the story may be based on real events or facts about Alaska and its history, culture, and people.

  • What are some other books by Dana Stabenow?

Some other books by Dana Stabenow are Fire and Ice, Blindfold Game, Prepared for Rage, Silk and Song, Everything Under the Heavens, By the Shores of the Middle Sea, The Land Beyond, etc. These books belong to different genres and series than the Kate Shugak series.

  • What are some similar books to Bad Blood?

Some similar books to Bad Blood are A Cold Wind by Paige Shelton, The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson, The Dry by Jane Harper, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, The Snowman by Jo Nesbo, etc. These books are also mystery thrillers that feature a strong female protagonist and a cold or remote setting.



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