PLAY WITH FIRE by Dana Stabenow


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 Quite a change from the white-collar, white-landscape crime of A Cold-Blooded Business (1994): It's June in Alaska; the sun never drops below the horizon; the temperature hovers around 80 degrees; and Kate Shugak, passing through tiny Chistona picking mushrooms, finds the body of schoolteacher Daniel Seabolt, missing but unreported since the previous August. Apart from Dan's ten-year-old son Matthew, who hires Kate to find his father hours after she's already found him, nobody in Chistona seems sorry he's dead; he'd alienated them all by teaching evolution in the local school, and his biggest detractor, a fire-and-brimstone preacher, is none other than his own father. Over Matthew's protests, Kate resolves to find out why Dan was naked and how he could have been killed by anaphylactic shock. But the anemic mystery is mostly a pretext for 12 rounds of dueling worldviews; and what chance does Bible Belt creationism have against the double-whammy of Aleut animism and liberal humanism? Though her publishers have evidently chosen to push this as Stabenow's breakout book, it's likely to disappoint her fans. Like an Arctic Amanda Cross, Stabenow is less interested here in tracking down whodunit than in hunting bigger ideological game. Still, don't expect an endorsement from Newt Gingrich. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-425-14717-7
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Berkley
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1995


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