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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Review - Canyon Sacrifice

The Mystery and Crime Fiction Blog Carnival is approaching, so it is time to submit your reviews.  Please submit your appropriate blog posts by Sunday night (click here).

Now for this week's book review.  This is a new mystery series centered around an archeologist in national parks.  Find out about this new series right here.

Author: Scott Graham

Copyright: June 2014 (Torrey House Press) 245 pgs

Series: 1st in National Park Mystery series

Sensuality: some non-graphic violence

Mystery Sub-genre: Suspense

Main Characters: Chuck Bender, archaeologist

Setting: Modern Day, Grand Canyon National Park

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Chuck is camping out in the Grand Canyon National Park with his bride Janelle and her two girls, Carmelita and Rosie.  It is meant to allow them to get a sense of his job, since he had done a few archeology projects in the park.  But, one night the oldest daughter, Carmelita, is kidnapped and Chuck may be the target because of a significant Anasazi discovery that he has not revealed yet that is quite valuable.  Suspicions run high as Chuck gets mixed messages on who he can trust, and puts his life in danger to get his step daughter back safely. Without giving away too much, two people end up dead, showing the kidnapper is dangerous.

Chuck was a confirmed bachelor who is now getting used to being married.  There are some aspects to the relationship with Janelle that I found incongruous.  Chuck is terrible at even basic communication, to be fair. Janelle, the new wife, has been burned in the past and seems to be looking for Chuck to disappoint her.  She blames him or shames him rather than worry about his life being in danger (which it is throughout the book).  Donald and Rachel are park rangers Chuck worked with on past assignments.  Rachel had been an old flame, which provides further tension.  Clarence is Janelle's brother, who joins the them at the camp ground.  Robert Begay, a Navajo, is the Chief Park Ranger who tends to suspect Chuck as everything falls to pieces.

The setting descriptions are where the book shines. The vastness, raw beauty, and yet harsh and lethal sides of the Grand Canyon are ever present.  The plot is feasible and the pacing is fairly steady and builds to the crescendo killer confrontation.  The writing style went into details about Park specifics that weren't important to the storyline, which interrupted the flow in a few instances. 

The climax was nicely hair-raising and surprising, which I appreciated.  The wrap up never happened.  I would have liked one more scene that provided some emotional closure between Chuck and Janelle, and Clarence had some explaining to do that I wanted to see.

Canyon Sacrifice is a quick read with a lot packed into it. Overall a good rush with an interesting premise played out in a spectacular setting.

Rating: Good - A fun read with some minor flaws. Maybe read an excerpt before buying. 

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