"A Taint In The Blood" is the most lighthearted, optimistic, Kate Shugak novel since "Breakup" (which was book seven - way back in time).
I liked the humorous start to the book, with Kate offering I-hate-owing-people-anything motivated "help" to the people who rebuilt her home at the end of the last book and driving them crazy in the process.
I also liked that Kate has now come out of her trauma-induced hibernation and is ready to toy with Jim Chopin, the habitual womanizer who keeps telling himself that he does NOT want a relationship with Kate - just good sex. Kate frustrates his expectations by taking him at his word, have mind-blowing sex with him and then leaving him to wake up alone while she heads off to work. Chopin's bemusement is a joy to behold.
Kate's relationship with the late Jack Morgan was always described as intensely physical but most of it happened off camera. In "A Taint In The Blood" everything is much more up close and personal.
It seems to me that, as well as being lighthearted fun and a development of Kate's relationship with Jim, this reawakening of Kate's sexual confidence shows her taking another step towards being more like her grandmother - a woman known for the impact she had on her lovers.
The murder mystery in this book is slight in terms of plot complexity but that' not really the point. This thirty-year-old murder case provides an opportunity to look back into how life used to be in Alaska. I enjoyed the tales of the old-timer bush cop and the peek into the rawness of the Alaskan "Frontier". I guessed the murderer fairly early on but that didn't spoil my enjoyment because the characters were so well described.
This was a light, fun, sometimes sexy read that gave a welcome change in pace from the depressed mood of the books that started with "Hunter's Moon". Now I'm looking forward to see what Kate is going to do with her life.
Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear an extract from "A Taint In The Bloood".