This is a crime novel set in Alaska in July. There are two villages, where two rivers meet and a rivalry that dates back a century. One village, Kuskulana has prospered, while the other; Kushtaka has not. The bad blood of the title is the bad blood between the two villages. This apparently the 20th Kate Shugak novel, but she is not involved until the second half, unless you count the tour of her land, which might interest someone who had read the other 19 Kate Shugak novels, but didn’t interest me. Her lover, state trooper Jim Chopin is trying to investigate a murder in Kushtaka, where the body of a young man is found in a fish wheel, used for catching salmon. Jim wants to catch a bigger fish but everyone in the village is tight-lipped.
“I feel like the chorus in a five act play.” Jim said, “I can see everything that is going on, but I can’t do fuck all about it.”
The book is divided into five acts, the rivalry of the two villages echoes the feuding families in Romeo and Juliet. This becomes all the more apparent when a girl from the Kushtaka village elopes with a boy from Kuskulana.
The action takes a long time to get interesting, and there is precious little humour. The ending is a surprise, which I won’t spoil. The landscape is full of bears and wolverines and skiffs and lots of daylight.
My rating: 3 out of 5
Body count (for Emma): at least 4