‘Spoils Of The Dead’ – Liam Campbell #5 by Dana Stabenow

I ended this book thinking, ‘Well that was nice but…’

The nice parts:

It was good to meet Liam Campbell again and to see him and Wy, still very much in lust with one another, making a new start in a different part of Alaska and to catch up with some of the characters from other books who play minor roles in this one.

Dana Stabenow made me fall in love with the Alaskan landscape (which I’ve never seen) all over again. Quite a bit of the book was spent on descriptions of the geography, history and wildlife of the area and I enjoyed all of it.

I loved meeting Sybilla, a colourful old woman who is fun to be with when her dementia releases its grip. I liked that Liam treated her with respect, even though she was walking the streets naked when she first tapped on his truck’s window and that Wy made her into a friend and that Dana Stabenow made her a key character in unravelling the mystery.

I love way Dana Stabenow writes. Her style is accessible without being sparse. Her portraits of people are vivid and there is a constant undercurrent of humour and compassion in the face of the ugliness that Liam’s job inevitably brings him into contact with. I always feel as if she’s piloting me effortlessly through the story, which may be why I always want to read one more chapter and end up reading late into the night.

The But… parts:

What there was was fun but there wasn’t that much of it. The book is only 207 pages long and seemed to come to a close just as I had slipped into Liam’s new situation. I’d hoped this would be a sort of pilot for rebooting a series of Liam books. It had the right set-up for it but I think it needed to be longer to get the new situation established.

The mystery is interesting and sad and the explanation is clever BUT Liam could almost have solved this one without leaving the office and the conclusion was pretty much handed to him. Dana Stabenow managed to wrap some humour around the fact that this time Liam wasn’t throwing himself out of a plane or off a boat or being shot at or even wrecking another uniform but that also meant that Liam was never under threat and never had to do more than ask questions. That his questions didn’t, in the end, give him the solution may be true to life but it was a little anticlimactic.

On the other hand...

I enjoyed myself for six hours, listening to Margeurite Gavin’s narration. It was good entertainment and I’ll be there to read the next Liam book when Dana Stabenow writes it.

Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear an extract from the book and get a feel for its tone.

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