Copyright: January 2014 (Berkley) 304 pgs
It may be the first stirrings of spring, but this book is in the depths of winter. This is the first book in a new series focusing on Search and Rescue operations. I read the book cover blurb and knew I had to read it. Usually it takes me several days, sometimes a full week to read a book. Not this one, 24 hours only because I just could not put it down.
Series: 1st in Search and Rescue Mystery
Sensuality: adult situations, some violence, language scatter throughout
Mystery Sub-genre: Thriller
Main Characters: Gracie Kinkaid -- rescue expert
Setting: Modern day, San Rafael Wilderness
Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review
Gracie is a a volunteer for Timber Creek Search and Rescue. It is the Thanksgiving holiday and she is one of only three to answer a rescue call. There are four hikers missing in the San Rafael Wilderness of Southern California -- and one is a famous movie actor so there is intense pressure to find them. Gracie is paired with a self-absorbed Search and Rescue volunteer, Cashman, who is more interested in getting an autograph when they find the famous actor than in finding all four. Gracie is the experienced tracker, and she finds blood on the trail indicating something suspicious happened to the hikers. They locate one hiker, the heart-throb actor Rob Christian, who is injured but has bits of memory involving an attack and blood. But before they are able to locate any of the remaining lost hikers, an early blizzard settles in and Gracie is on her own to save any surviving hikers and hide from a killer while warding off hypothermia for both her and Rob.
There are a few sections told from the woman hiker as she hides from the killer, and a few from the killer as well.
Gracie Kinkaid has some emotional damage and isn't your typical woman. She loves being out in the wilderness and surviving. She comes with some baggage, but not too much. Ralph Hunter is a senior Search and Rescue team member who reminds you of a traditional gentleman with modern ideas. He is in the command trailer providing the rescue team's communication and support. Steve Cashman is the blundering dolt who feels nobody respects him. He is an enemy to the rescue efforts in his own right. Rob Christian is the mega-star actor who will not be pampered in this rescue and he must toughen up.
Timber Creek County and San Rafael Wilderness area are vividly rendered highlighting the wild and dangerous alongside the breathtaking. The wilderness is the primary setting for most of the book and it was so well done that I believe I got chilled.
The plot is simple but quite effective with tension and suspense built upon as the story develops. There aren't any slow spots and once you are a chapter in, you are hooked. The climax was white knuckle excitement and the wrap up was bittersweet.
This was an intense and riveting debut perfectly drawn and executed. This should be a great series if this first offering is any indication.
Rating: Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend.