A clash of family cultures may be behind a series of murders.
The Alaskan villages of Kushtaka and Kuskulana share a salmon-filled river and a deep-rooted mutual hatred. Kushtaka natives, mostly Macks, adhere to the old ways and live in near poverty. Across the river, the Kuskulana residents, mostly Christiansons, reap the benefits of modernity. When state trooper Sgt. Jim Chopin is called in, Roger Christianson takes him to the Mack fish wheel, where the body of Tyler Mack has been found. Although Tyler’s family considered him a lazy schemer, they’re covering up evidence and plotting revenge. Jim’s girlfriend, private eye Kate Shugak, a Native Alaskan with many family connections in the vast area known as the Park, quickly becomes involved. No sooner is Tyler’s death ruled a murder then the body of Mitch Halvorsen is found sealed up in the house he’s building on the Kuskulana side of the river. Mitch’s brother Kenny demands revenge against the Kushtakers. Jim is sure that Mitch and Kenny were smuggling in alcohol and possibly drugs for the nearby mine workers, but his questions produce only silence and lies on both sides of the river. In the meantime, Ryan Christianson and Jennifer Mack, who have fallen in love, are secretly meeting even though their romance is certain to cause more trouble. Kate (Restless in the Grave, 2012, etc.), along with her half-wolf, Mutt, works her own angle and takes steps that may put her in danger in more ways than she can imagine.
To her usual atmospheric detection, Stabenow adds more than a hint of Romeo and Juliet, or the Hatfields and the McCoys.