Play with Fire H/C

Dana Stabenow, Author Berkley Publishing Group $19.95 (282p) ISBN 978-0-425-14717-7
The crisp crunch of snow gives way to mosquitos and mushrooms as both cold weather-loving Kate Shugak and her latest adventure wilt in the warmth of an Alaskan June. Kate and photojournalist Dinah Cookman are harvesting forest mushrooms when they discover a naked, much-decomposed corpse and call in a trooper, who says that no one within 100 miles has been reported missing in the last year. But then the grandson of the local Bible-thumping preacher asks Kate to find his missing father, Daniel. The corpse is identified as the boy's father's and, while the police suspect no foul play, Kate wonders how the man died. Few share her curiosity: the boy asks her to stop investigating, and other locals answer her questions evasively. Then a gang of thugs wrecks her camp and injures Dinah. Even readers sympathetic to Stabenow's (A Cold-Blooded Business) plot-linked message on religious intolerance will struggle with the crudely inserted mushroom lore and other extraneous material that doesn't even yield a credible red herring. Maybe the likable Kate will perk up again when the temperature plummets. Author tour. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
Genre: Fiction
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