- Author: Christine Carbo
- Performed by RC Bray
- Released: June 2015 by Blackstone Audio
- Category: Mystery, Police Procedural
A haunting crime novel set in Glacier National Park about a man who finds himself at odds with the dark heart of the wild—and the even darker heart of human nature.
It was a clear night in Glacier National Park. Fourteen-year-old Ted Systead and his father were camping beneath the rugged peaks and starlit skies when something unimaginable happened: a grizzly bear attacked Ted’s father and dragged him to his death.
Twenty years after teenager Ted Systead witnessed his father being dragged from their tent and killed by a grizzly bear while they were camping, he finds himself back in Glacier National Park investigating a similar crime. Ted is a Special Agent for the Homicide Division of the Department of the Interior living in Denver, and is assigned to the investigation with Monty, one of the park rangers.
Ted was traumatized by his father’s death and it still weighs heavily on his mind. The difference with the present case is that the victim was a meth addict, bully, animal abuser and generally reprehensible. He was duct taped to a tree, shot and subsequently mauled by a grizzly bear. That a bear is involved brings back horrific memories for Ted.
I squeezed my eyes shut and pictured my ma and my sisters at home in their warm beds. I ached for my mom, for her arms around me. Then I heard the screaming again in my head. Right between my ears, expanding and pushing against my skull. I started to run, first stumbling, then full force. I ran and ran, faltering and tumbling over the hard, lumpy ground, over the edges of buried rocks and exposed roots on the well-maintained trail. I ran until it all went black.
I like Ted as a character, he’s complex and sometimes withdrawn, given to introspection. Because he identifies so much with the type of crime and the place it was committed, the emotional impact threatens to compromise his investigative process. Together with the suspicious, generally less than helpful community and the seemingly uncooperative park supervisor, Ted and Monty are finding it very difficult to close the case.
I very much enjoyed the beautiful and majestic setting of Glacier National Park and the information woven into the narrative on the wildlife and scenery. The genuine love of the Glacier National Park shines thorough, along with the intrinsic dangers, potential hazards and savagery of the natural world.
A really good debut novel, with a compelling storyline. Just one little niggle, it’s a little too wordy in parts for me, with some mundane details unnecessary to the storyline, which I think would have detracted more had I been reading it. There was a lot of the narrative spent with the protagonist’s thought processes too, but this is very much a character driven, procedural mystery, so in the main wasn’t out of place. The characters are distinct and fully developed and Ted’s pysche is explored, it seems to me, with accuracy and understanding. A completely unexpected perpetrator, I would never have guessed. Christine Carbo is definitely an author to watch out for.
RC Bray gives Ted’s ‘voice’ a very human and emotive quality, with a great narration as always, moving seamlessly between characters.
About the author
Christine Carbo grew up in Gainesville, Florida, until she moved to Kalispell, Montana, when she was twelve. After earning a pilot’s license, pursuing various adventures in Norway, and a brief stint as a flight attendant, she got an MA in English and Linguistics and taught writing, linguistics, and literature courses at a community college. She still teaches, in a vastly different realm, as the owner of a Pilates studio. She and her husband live in Whitefish, Montana, with their three kids, one incredibly silly dog, and one very self-possessed cat.