Restless in the Grave starts out with an atypical opening sequence for Dana Stabenow’s Alaska-based mysteries. It starts on a hilltop in Helmand province, Afghanistan, where a young Afghani, kidnapped and trained by the Taliban for this one mission, aims a brand new high-tech weapon at a helicopter, killing all inside.
The scene switches to Alaska, where the protagonists of Stabenow’s two Alaskan series, Liam Campbell and Kate Shugak meet up. Campbell’s wife, Wy Chouinard, is a suspect in the crash of millionaire Finn Grant’s Piper Cub, so Liam turns to his mentor, Sgt. Jim Chopin, for help in recruiting Kate and her wolf dog Mutt for some underground detecting. Beside Wy, Grant’s abused wife, his rebellious children and half the territory seem to have a motive and the knowledge to tamper with Grant’s plane and kill him. He had recently purchased an abandoned Air Force base and turned it into a high-end destination resort for hunters, fisherman and flight-seeing tourists, as well as building a growing air-freight business, forcing out all the small time competitors.
Kate arrives in Newenham and shortly gets a job waiting tables and an apartment rented to her by the not-so-grieving widow. That same evening, she’s tumbled into a wooden box along with Mutt. That’s only one of the traps she falls into or eludes during the course of this book. Some judicious snooping and she finds that Grant was almost broke. So how did he finance the purchase of the base and refurbishing? What kind of freight is he moving to an outer island? An unauthorized excursion on a Russian fishing trawler leads to a startling discovery in more than one way, including why the murder in Afghanistan.
This is the 19thKate Shugak mystery and I’ve enjoyed them all. There are also four Liam Campbell mysteries. Dana Stabenow was born on a fishing boat in Alaskan waters and has lived there ever since. She knows the people, the territory, the flora and fauna and it’s obvious. You don’t have to read this book in order, but if you like it, try the others in the series.