When winter's done, but spring has not yet fully sprung, much of Alaska turns to slush. Locally, it's called "breakup," and it's a…messy time of year. It's certainly messy for Kate Shugak; between doing her taxes, being chased by grizzlies, and getting shot at by feuding families, she has to cope with an NTSB investigation that hits very close to home. Then, of course, there's the body in the woods. And up at the old mining town. And…being Kate Shugak, somehow she can't leave well enough alone, and begins to tease apart a well-planned and surprising crime.