Death Canyon: A Jake Trent Novel

Death Canyon: A Jake Trent Novel

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by David Riley Bertsch

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The debut novel—“a true thrill ride” (Suspense magazine)—in the series featuring prosecutor-turned-Wyoming-fishing-guide Jake Trent: “a twisting, turning, murderous tale that thriller readers will love” (New York Times bestselling author Michael McGarrity).

It’s early summer in Jackson, Wyoming, where


The debut novel—“a true thrill ride” (Suspense magazine)—in the series featuring prosecutor-turned-Wyoming-fishing-guide Jake Trent: “a twisting, turning, murderous tale that thriller readers will love” (New York Times bestselling author Michael McGarrity).

It’s early summer in Jackson, Wyoming, where former prosecutor Jake Trent has left the law behind to pursue his dream: becoming a fishing guide and opening a small bed-and-breakfast in the West. Now three seemingly unrelated deaths have occurred in one day—unheard of in the scenic valley of Jackson Hole—disrupting Jake’s idyllic new life.

A skier perishes in a freak late-season avalanche. A French couple is discovered mutilated on a remote trail—presumably by a bear. And on the Snake River, Jake stumbles across the body of an expensively attired fisherman. Meanwhile, a series of small earthquakes—not to mention a bitter dispute between land developers and environmentalists—has left the townspeople uneasy.

Before long, the plausible explanations for each death dissolve. Could there be a sinister connection among them? When fresh evidence points to Jake as a suspect, he goes on the defensive. Is someone out to frame him? Jake teams up with beautiful park ranger Noelle Klimpton to get to the bottom of this series of disturbing events. The trail leads right to the region’s crown-jewel attraction: Yellowstone. With “all the elements of a successful thriller” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), Death Canyon features “evocative Rocky Mountain themes, a spot-on sense of place, brilliant fly-fishing scenes and characters you just want to root for” (New York Times bestselling author C.J. Box).

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bertsch tries to do too much in his workmanlike debut, which introduces Jake Trent, who, like his creator, is a former lawyer turned fly-fishing guide in Jackson, Wyo. On a solo fishing trip on the Snake River, Trent discovers a body caught in a deadfall, retrieves it, and takes it to the Jackson police chief. But he ends up a suspect when an autopsy suggests foul play. A tourist’s death from a putative bear attack and another in a freak avalanche lead Trent to muse: “Three people, three violent deaths, two days, one small town.” Trent, who teams with Park Ranger Noelle Klimpton, the obligatory romantic interest, realizes much more is at stake than his safety, as discord over a proposed 220-lot housing development and the actions of an over-the-top villain called the Shaman threaten a major disaster. Ominous seismic events add to the sense of peril. Bertsch clearly knows the environmental issues involving the Wyoming wilderness, but he needs to sharpen his focus if he’s to rival Craig Johnson or C.J. Box. Agent: Margaret Riley, William Morris Endeavor. (Aug.)
Craig Johnson
"Izaak Walton called fly fishing a contemplative man’s recreation, and some of the same can be said of David Riley Bertsch’s Death Canyon except that this debut thriller series featuring fishing guide Jake Trent stacks up bodies faster than cordwood and deftly threads together an investigation like a premium hand-tied fly."
C.J. Box
"David Riley Bertsch's first novel Death Canyon offers evocative Rocky Mountain themes, a spot-on sense of place, brilliant fly-fishing scenes, and characters you just want to root for. Welcome aboard, Dave Bertsch."
Suspense Magazine
"A true thrill ride. Readers will definitely look forward to the next book in this series. From this first tale, it looks like Jake Trent will be the next in line for suspense/thriller readers to adore!"
Neil McMahon
Death Canyon shoots straight at the heart of America’s love affair with our national parks--and reminds us that beyond the tourist attractions lies true wilderness: vast, remote, and full of dangerous animals–especially the kind that walk on two legs. This is a harrowing journey into that world, written by an insider who knows where the tracks lead.”
Michael McGarrity
“Set in the beautiful Wyoming high country, Death Canyon introduces Jake Trent, a smart and savvy protagonist, in a twisting, turning, murderous tale that thriller readers will love."
"Bertsch is a talented writer who creates tangible, likable characters in Jake and Noelle; a steady stream of action; and lush descriptions of the Jackson Hole area, including Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"All the elements of a successful thriller..... Bertsch has developed strong characters in Jake, Noelle and Police Chief Roger Terrell."
Pinal County Reads
"If you enjoy Western mysteries, it is a must."
Alfred Hitchcock Magazine
"The mutual attraction of Jake and Noelle throws off some nice sparks."
Killer Nashville - Clay Stafford
“This book is the start of a series; but this story is so good, I’m not sure how Bertsch is going to top it…. What starts small blows up to world-ending proportions…. There is a long career ahead for this new writer.”
Library Journal
This debut mystery and series launch introduces attorney–turned–fishing guide Jake Trent, park ranger Noelle Klimpton, a series of murders, criminals of all varieties, energy companies, land development versus preservation issues, and the breathtaking landscapes of Wyoming’s Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. Trent’s past life as an investigator helps him piece together clues from a presumed bear mauling, a skier’s death, and a drowning but also puts him in the crosshairs of the local police. Why does someone want Trent out of the picture? The author, a former lawyer, eases into the plot with its labyrinth of interconnected characters and events, He then propels the book into nonstop action to the finish as Trent discovers why he is being framed for murder and why the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem is being rocked by a series of earthquakes.

Verdict Fans of C.J. Box and Nevada Barr will relish this new sleuth of the great outdoors. Adding to the appeal of this fresh series is Bertsch’s skillful depiction of the allure of the wide open spaces of the West and its regenerative powers for his characters. Adventure, current environmental issues, and love are all a part of the package.—Patricia Ann Owens, formerly with Illinois Eastern Community Colls., Mt. Carmel
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
Are you attached to Jackson Hole, Wyo.? Its peaceful beauty is being destroyed by the evil machinations of a shadowy group. Jake Trent used to be an East Coast attorney, a prosecutor and a member of a powerful task force. Now that he's just a fishing guide, his old enemies are about to catch up to him. Though the summer tourists are just starting to arrive, an avalanche has already claimed one life and a bear attack, another. Jake's overnight fishing trip turns into a nightmare when he finds a dead man hung up in the river and realizes that the authorities consider him a likely suspect. Meanwhile, park ranger Noelle Klimpton, who discovered the bear's victims, a dead French tourist and his injured wife, feels uneasy about the attack. When she has the bear tooth she found checked out by an expert, he tells her that it hasn't come from a living bear. Noelle and Jake, who both have the idea of interviewing the injured tourist, team up to put together the pieces of the puzzle. Although Jake's been trying to fight the development of a local ranch, he seems to be the target of environmental activists willing to use force to achieve their aims. The entire area is racked all the while by small earthquakes that are getting stronger and more dangerous each day. Fearing that the local police may be in the pay of whoever is causing the troubles, Jake and Noelle risk their lives in a desperate attempt to uncover the truth. Bertsch's debut, the first in a planned series, features an interesting premise, a stunning location, a protagonist with plenty of room for future growth, and the obligatory sex scenes, but it never cranks up to the tension found in the most thrilling thrillers.

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Meet the Author

David Riley Bertsch, a native of Pittsburgh, graduated from Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Since 2009 he has lived in Jackson, Wyoming, where he is a professional fly-fishing guide. He is the author of Death Canyon and River of No Return.

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Death Canyon: A Jake Trent Novel 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
FlashSR More than 1 year ago
Found this book at an Inn in Jackson, Wyoming, having just come from Yellowstone Park. The name of the book caught my eye as it is the name of a trail hiked in the Tetons. Ordered it as soon as I got home and loved it. It is a great mystery but the real pleasure is in having just experienced the beautiful places written about in the novel. Jake Trent is a good character, and just enough character development to make the reader want more. I look forward to the next in this series.
BasingstoneBook More than 1 year ago
Jake Trent a retired attorney turned fishing guide just can't leave his old investigative job alone, and looks into some strange deaths in Jackson Hole where he lives, one of the victims he finds himself. Jake is not alone, Noelle Klimpton a park ranger is also curious and teams up with Jake to try and solve the mysterious deaths. All the time minor earthquakes continue to increase in frequency and intensity, adding tension to the already tense situation. The author builds up suspense very well producing an excellent page turner with no dull chapters. He also explores the concept of governments working on projects behind the public's back, starting with good intentions but losing the plot. I recommend you read this and be well entertained whilst exploring the countryside of Wyoming
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DEATH CANYON is a smart, tension-packed, well-written thriller set in picturesque Jackson Hole, a place that the author knows well. Bertsch does an excellent job painting Jackson as a place where nature still plays a dominant role in human life otherwise caught in a tug-of-war between principle and greed. And trust me, there's plenty of fishing involved! Few thriller writers who use the environment as a plot foundation are as savvy and objective as Bertsch. The highlight of the book is attorney-turned-fly-fishing guide protagonist Jake Trent, who I hope to be seeing a lot more of in future books. This is the perfect end-of-summer read. Highly recommended!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can't wait to see more of what Bertsch--and Jake Trent-- have in store. I've finally found my new thriller series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a GREAT read.  Terrific characters, fascinating setting, gripping plot.  All wrapped in a perceptive and witty narrative and rooted in enduring, profound themes.  Can't say enough good things about this debut novel and can't wait for the next in the series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the setting and story.