Thirty-one years ago in Anchorage, Alaska, Victoria Pilz Bannister Muravieff was convicted of murdering her seventeen-year-old son William. The jury returned a quick verdict of guilty, believing the prosecutor's claims that she had set fire to her own home with both her sons inside; William died and the other, Oliver, narrowly escaped. Victoria was sentenced to life in prison without parole, and though she pled not guilty at the trial, she never again denied her guilt.
Now her daughter, Charlotte Muravieff, has hired Kate Shugak to clear her mother's name. Her daughter has always believed in her innocence, and now that Victoria has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, Charlotte wants her free. Kate is the only p.i. Charlotte can find who's willing to take such a long-shot case. Kate, on the other hand, is only willing because she's suddenly a single parent to a teenager, a teenager she hopes will decide to go to college. Besides, it can't be bad to do a favor for the Bannister family, one of the wealthiest and most prominent families in Alaska's short history.
As Kate begins an investigation, Victoria protests, refusing to cooperate. But soon it seems she isn't the only one who wants to leave the past in the past. In this spell-binding novel, A Taint in the Blood, Kate's confrontation with thirty years of secrets and regret-and murder-in one of Alaska's most powerful families shows award-winning crime writer Dana Stabenow at the top of her game.
Known for her evocative wilderness settings, Edgar-winner Stabenow heads into urban territory in her uneven 14th Kate Shugak mystery, which is set mainly in Anchorage and picks up where 2003's A Grave Denied left off. Charlotte Bannister Muravieff, of an influential Alaska family, hires Kate to prove that her imprisoned mother, Victoria, wasn't the culprit behind a 30-year-old tragedy. Convicted of setting a fire in her house that killed her sleeping son William, Victoria is now dying of cancer. Kate hires poacher Kurt Pletnikoff, who's come to Anchorage for work, to help interview everyone still alive connected with the crime, including a reluctant Victoria and her remaining son, Oliver. Fast-paced action scenes, sympathetic child characters and Kate's appealing dog, Mutt, help smooth a complex plot strewn with chunks of historical background. Those looking for bodice-ripping romance will savor the heat generated between Kate and Alaska state trooper Jim Chopin, though established fans may be dismayed by Kate's aggressive sexual behavior. First-time readers may wish that a host of supporting characters, mostly Kate's friends and relatives, were better identified.