Of course, up-beat is a relative term. This is a Kate Shugak novel so, although the book is filled with the intense sunshine of humour, love, sexual attraction, practical compassion, moral courage and physical bravery, it is still loomed over by deaths, murders, political intrigue and the impossibility of being able to save everyone.
Dana Stabenow’s ability to write (relatively short) novels that make me laugh, cry, become angry and relax in the company of characters who feel like friends continues to astonish me.
In “A Night Too Dark”, Kate gets involved in investigating misdeeds and disappearances at Global Harvests gold mine, strengthens her grip over the Native Association that she chairs, ends up fighting for her life in the Park. It also becomes clear that soon, Kate is going to have to take sides and decide what she really wants to do about the gold mine.
“A Night Too Dark” is the seventeenth Kate Shugak book and yet it is a fresh and energetic as the early books in the series. Of course, I have more history with Kate now. I know how she came by some of her emotional and physical scars. I know who she loves and why. I know when she will feel obliged to act (although that doesn’t mean I can predict what she will do). There is a strong ensemble cast in the Kate Shugak novels but Kate is the sun around which the rest of them revolve.
There is enough in this novel to suggest that next one will be more traumatic. I’ll be there, absorbing every page, because the next best thing after an up-beat Kate Shugak novel is a traumatic Kate Shugak novel.
If you’d like to hear the inimitable Marguerite Gavin reading “A Night Too Dark”, click on the soundcloud link below.