So Sure of Death: A Liam Campbell Mystery

Dana Stabenow, Author Dutton Books $23.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-525-94519-2
Stabenow's second Liam Campbell mystery (after Fire and Ice) has the vivid descriptions, rich characterization and compelling plot that distinguish her nine Kate Shugak books, with the added advantage of extra sex appeal. Alaska State Trooper Campbell, stationed in the southwest Alaska boondocks, has a lot on his plate: an eager new trooper, Diana Prince; a visit from his estranged father, an air force colonel on a suspicious mission; the reappearance of his great love, charter pilot Wyanet (Wy) Chouinard; and two very different cases rife with false clues. When an assistant at an important archeological site is murdered, evidence points to Frank Petla, a Yupik grave robber who travels by four-wheeler. Liam apprehends him in a dramatic chase by leaping out of Wy's Cub into a lake, but later comes to believe Frank's profession of innocence. The desperate murderer finally reveals himself, almost killing Wy and her journalist friend Jo. Finding a killer who sets fire to a fishing boat, incinerating all seven people aboard, proves a more difficult task. Initially, Liam suspects a disgruntled former deckhand, but the solution hinges on careful observation and an understanding of Yupik lifestyles and traditions, a necessity for these white cops in a predominantly Native American population. Colorful characters abound, and Stabenow ably evokes the life of hard-pressed commercial fishermen. The mystery ends on a mystical note, integrating Native American belief into a satisfying conclusion. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/1999
Release date: 10/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
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