A Grave Denied
St. Martin's, Sept 2003, 24.95, 304 pp.
As he lay dying in his lover's arms, Jack Morgan made Kate Shugak promise to look after his son Johnny and to protect him from his mother. Since he wants to homestead with her in Alaska's National Park, Kate takes Johnny into her home and the residents of the park conspire with her to keep him hidden from his mother and outside authorities. Unfortunately nobody can protect Johnny or his classmates from seeing the body of a murdered man.
The homicide victim is Len Dreyer, who supported himself by doing construction and handyman jobs for the local residents. State Trooper Jim Chopin is in the middle of a crime wave so he asks Kate to learn if the victim had any enemies. She finds nobody really knew the man who left no paper trail for her to follow but her questions lead someone to burning down her log cabin, thinking she is in it. This case becomes very personal for Kate and she is determined to track down the killer or die trying.
This is one of the most successful, dynamic and refreshing mystery series of the last decade. The characters evolve, change and grow so that they remain unpredictable. A GRAVE DENIED is an exciting who-done-it because nobody will guess who the killer is until the author chooses to reveal his identity in a shocking climax. It is heartwarming to see the homesteaders rally around Kate in her time of troubles and says much about the goodness in most people's heart. This novel is must reading for anyone who likes an emotional, heart wrenching and dramatic relationship drama wrapped around a mystery.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner