For Alaska Wildlife Trooper Zanebono Fusca, it's just another summer in Anchorage until a slew of inexplicable fatal bear attacks sets the city reeling. As far as Zane is concerned, the timing couldn't be worse. He's besieged with his own demons, coping with personal loss and an identity crisis that clutches him worse than a grizzly's pickaxe-sized fangs. Ten years before, he hoped Alaska would bring him a sense of his manhood. Now the "last frontier" could put him in an early grave.
Zane's role to protect Alaska's teeming wildlife gets even more tangled when handsome twenty-five-year-old Joshua Gaffner arrives seeking the details of his uncle's gruesome death. But Alaskan officials have few answers. Against his better judgment, Zane takes Joshua deep into Anchorage's far-flung backcountry-populated with eccentric recluses and ego-driven ecologists-in search of the truth. As the bizarre attacks increase, Zane and Josh continue to push for clues to crack the mystery. Finally Zane unravels a shocking discovery that makes the pieces fall into place. The trouble is Josh stands in the perfect position to become the next victim.
John Solo narrated this well and I enjoyed the story - for the most part. There were some bits that irked me and took away from the enjoyment of the story. As I explain these it may be a bit spoilerish so this is my warning. Ok?!
This book has possibly one of the most original storylines I have read. I liked that it was different and not the same old, same old. Set in Alaska - a place I have loved from a distance since watching Northern Exposure as a teen - the setting is a perfect backdrop to the brutal life and death murder mystery story to follow. Shelter Somerset writes wonderful place. I could feel the Alaskan wilderness, the way the weather and the season affect those that live there. It was atmospheric, a great setting, without being too much and taking away from the story.
Overall I really enjoyed the story, but as I mentioned there were a couple of niggles that just dropped down my rating. The first of these is - only in my opinion - a writing error (I'm not sure that's the right word, the author writes what the author wants to write, but it didn't fit with the rest of the story, took from it in fact). Basically in a few scenes we are in the head of the bear (in the opening scene in fact), and while these scenes are well written in themselves the anthropomorphising of the bears took away from the story. It took a grisly murder mystery and turned it into something... less? I can see what the author was trying to do, but it just didn't work. Bears are not human. They are wonderful animals that do not have the same thought processes as humans. Well, at least as far as we're aware. By being inside the bear's head and seeing the scene from the bear's POV just did not work. It just didn't. I really feel this should have been flagged at the editing stage and the author should have changed it.
The second niggle is personal but it really bugged the ever living fuck out of me. For reasons I won't explain so as not to spoil the story, Zane's son lives with his ex-in laws, miles away from the Alaskan home he has made for himself. All through the book we hear how much he wishes he could see his son more, how he had no say etc etc but there was no reason he could not have had his son. Even if he agreed with the in laws that Alaska was no place for the child he could have moved to where his child was. So too for that matter could the boys mum. It pissed me off so much. He's the dad. The child should be his first priority.
Now just for the record I don[t believe there is anything wrong with grandparents or extended, adopted or foster families caring for children, not at all. A family is a much bigger concept than mum, dad & 2.4 children. In many, many, many circumstances it is not the right choice or in anyway the best option for the child. In this case though it felt entirely selfish to me that Zane made the choices he did, and as a parent it bugged me. This, is of course, my own personal feelings but it did diminish my enjoyment of the story. It's quite possible that every other reader didn't even think twice about it.
If it wasn't for these couple of things this would have been a five star read for me. It was original, in a great setting and had great pacing. I will definitely look out for this author again. Definitely.
A copy of this audiobook was given in exchange for an honest review.