Regional author Mark Stevens writes captivating wilderness murder mystery
Special to the Daily
Amid the backdrop of Glenwood Springs and the Flat Top Mountains, Allison Coil has reinvented her life after a traumatic brush with death. Allison was a smart, successful advertising executive living and working in the city until she dramatically changed the course of her life after surviving a plane crash.
Allison is a rare figure in the Rocky Mountains ” a female hunting guide whose occupation now requires her to escort hunters on horseback into the High Country, set up tents, prepare for the hunt and perform all the post hunt ‘field dressing’ activities. Often her clients are “silk tie executives” playing cowboy hunters. Allison is admired by both peers and clients. She has a quick wit with an adorable personality.
As Allison is finishing her day’s work and traveling home on horseback during a snowstorm she hears a rifle shot in the distance. She stops her horse, pulls out her binoculars and observes strange movement ” possibly someone or something struggling to move a large mass.
Something appears out of place ” the assumed target does not look like an elk but due to distance and the snowstorm limiting vision, she is unable to fully view the area. She has an unsettled feeling but goes on to retire for the night.
As events unfold, CNN covers the death of an animal rights activist in the vicinity of Allison’s sighting. Allison contacts the authorities to relay her observations but the sheriff brushes off her suspicions, placating her with kind words and taking no further action. Allison is unwilling to be dismissed and initiates her own investigation which is both thrilling and brilliant.
Multiple murders are taking place and her ability to dig deep for threads of information, analyze the situation and tie it into a coherent plot is fascinating. She is strong willed, resilient, stubborn and very likable. The kind of person you would like to have in your circle of friends.
Allison is close to the villains, dangerously close. As her investigation advances, she discusses her views with David Slater, forest ranger, boyfriend and coconspirator with George Grumley, owner of the exclusive hunting service. George attempts to interfere with the investigation and influence the outcome in order to protect his extremely profitable business.
Allison befriends George’s wife, Trudy, and together they form a bond that proves fruitful. In the midst of this activity, Dawn Ellenberg, leader of FATE (Fighting Animal Torture Everywhere) turns the activist’s death into a media frenzy adding pressure to the investigation.
Author Mark Stevens develops his characters in such a way that you hear their thoughts, see their views and want to keep reading as the story continues to unfold. Even the villains are likable which draws you even further into their warped minds. Author Mark Stevens’ ability to describe our local wilderness with eloquence and appreciation contributes to the reading pleasure.
I understand Mark has another book in the works ” I stand ready to devour the next one.
Mark Stevens will have a book signing for his novel “Antler Dust” Saturday from 1-3 p.m. at The Open Book in Frisco.
Dorothy or Amy Yundt is available to discuss the review at the store or by e-mail at OpenBookFrisco@aol.com.
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