Henry Farrell is the entire one-man police department in northeastern Pennsylvania's Wild Thyme Township, the one who has to hike into the woods when it's reported that a headless body has been chewed on by a bear. Learning the victim was a retired police officer and investigator, Henry knows this isn't an accidental death or bear attack. But before he has time to investigate he becomes a suspect in the murder of a woman with whom he had an affair. His young nephew Ryan has gone missing, and Henry is more worried about him out in the woods than he is about his own safety. Instead, he and Ryan are chased and trapped by dangerous men who know those woods as well as Henry does. The intensifying mystery delivers an atmospheric tale featuring a man who would rather be hunting and fishing than investigating his neighbors. This time, he and his nephew are the prey. VERDICT Fans of C.J. Box's wilderness mysteries featuring Joe Puckett will appreciate this bleak book, the third in the series from the Edgar Award-winning author of Dry Bones in the Valley. [See Prepub Alert, 8/19/19.]—Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN
A macabre murder is subordinate to a police officer's other concerns.
Officer Henry Farrell is a native of Wild Thyme, a small town in the Endless Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania, a region of great natural beauty whose denizens depend on struggling dairy farms, logging, stonecutting, and, more recently, fracking; there's also been an influx of outsiders, some of them drug dealers, meth cookers, and grifters (Fateful Mornings, 2017, etc.). When Terry Ceallaigh (pronounced "Kelly") reports finding a badly mauled, headless body in the woods, it at first appears to have been the casualty of a bear attack. But further investigation and the discovery of the head indicate murder followed by mauling by an opportunistic bear, which must be killed. Meanwhile, Henry is preparing for his second marriage; his fiancee, Miss Julie, is the daughter of wealthy parents, an EMT with some problems in her past. She knows that Henry's first wife died tragically young but doesn't know of the affair he had with Shelly Bray, who lost her children in the nasty divorce that followed. The wedding guests include Henry's parents, with whom he has a rocky relationship, and his sister, Mag, and her kids, who decide to stay for a while after the celebration instead of heading home to North Carolina. While Henry and wildlife biologist Mary Weaver are hunting the bear, they're attacked by a man with a knife. No one who worked with the dead man, who turns out to be Carl Dentry, a semiretired private investigator from the Harrisburg area, is willing to tell Henry anything, including what Dentry was doing in Wild Thyme. Then Shelly is murdered, and Henry is an obvious suspect. When his nephew Ryan vanishes, Henry takes to the woods, using every skill he learned as a young man and leaning on some lifelong friendships in an effort to find Ryan, save his marriage, and discover who killed Dentry and is gunning for him.
An elegant tale of an introspective detective whose life experiences have seared his soul without extinguishing his hope.