Since the wealthiest suspect in Stabenow’s novels (A Grave Denied, 2003, etc.) is usually the guiltiest, Kate Shugak is in a tough position when the daughter of two of Alaska’s oldest leading families hires her.
Victoria Pilz Bannister Muravieff was once wealthy and privileged. For the past 30 years, however, prison guards have supervised her wardrobe and delivered her mail. Now that she’s been diagnosed with cancer, her daughter Charlotte, frantic to keep her from dying in stir, drives all the way out to Kate’s brand-new house in the Bush to hire the detective to prove her mother innocent of her son’s murder. Kate refuses until the zeroes in the retainer change her mind. In Anchorage, she learns more about the day Victoria and teenaged Charlotte were helping Victoria’s powerful brother Erland give a party. On their return, the family home was in flames; Oliver, the younger son, jumped out a window; but William, the older, died in the blaze. Victoria never denied deliberately setting the fire. So why is Kate suddenly receiving an invitation and some intense personal interest from Erland Bannister, a man who’s never used his influence to help his sister? And why does someone try to kill Kate’s new assistant and then succeed in killing her client?
Promising intrigue that is either muddied or enhanced by Kate’s love life, depending on whether you find her as irresistible as Stabenow obviously does.