18 November 2011

Just finished reading...

Buried by the Roan by Mark Stevens.*

Outfitter and hunting guide Allison Coil has a group of hunters at a camp near Oyster Lake. One of the hunters, a local rancher named Josh Keating, appears to have a stomach ailment, and is blaming it on a mountain spring he drank from. The next day, his body is found near the lake, where he had apparently fallen and hit his head on the rocks. The other hunters say that they'd been drinking a lot, and he'd headed out alone to relieve himself late at night.

Allison is fairly certain that, even drunk, Keating was too skilled an outdoorsman to have died in such a manner. The police disagree, opining that it could happen to anyone.

Meanwhile, Allison's best friend, herbalist Trudy Heath is being courted by locavore group to be their spokesperson. Attempting to get some advice from a new resident of the area, Ethan Bostwick, who has been vocal and active against some proposed oil drilling, which he is certain will have dire consequences for food supplies. Because many of the longtime locals are welcoming the idea as a solution to their financial troubles, he is extremely unpopular and has gone into hiding.

One of the people who disagreed most vehemently with Bostwick was his neighbor, buffalo rancher Josh Keating.

As Allison goes back and forth between her headquarters and the hunting camp, she becomes more and more convinced that Keating's death was not an accident, and that Ethan Bostwick had something to do with it.

Stevens is a former journalist who now lives in Denver. He's obviously done researched winter hunting in the Colorado Rockies thoroughly. Most of the book is written from Allison's point of view, and Stevens puts himself into her shoes very skilfully, and he does the same when viewing the world through Trudy's eyes.

The two completely different women mesh effectively as an investigative team, helped in this case by a back-to-nature enthusiast known as Devo. Stevens' descriptions make the Colorado wilderness almost visible; the cold air and the crunch of the snow nearly tangible. (And I have certainly experienced my share of cold and snow!)

Buried by the Roan is the second of the Alison Coil mysteries, but it stands alone well.

*FTC Full Disclosure: Many thanks to the author, who sent me a copy of the book for review purposes. I've done my best to write an unbiased review.


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