Finished December 5
The Wild Inside by Christine Carbo
This mystery novel is set in Glacier National Park. Ted Systead is an agent for the Department of the Interior, working out of Denver. Ted is assigned to investigate a disturbing killing in the park, where a man was killed by a grizzly. While a bear killing would not be within Ted's purview, the victim was tied to a tree before the bear killed him. The case is unusual and disturbing, but it also takes Ted back to the horrific event that happened when he was fourteen. He and his father were camping at Oldman Lake in the southeast end of the park, when a grizzly attacked them in the night, dragging Ted's father from the tent and killing him. Ted's boss doesn't seem to have connected the current case with Ted's past, so Ted flies in and begins to tackle the case.
The local park police assign an officer to assist him, and Ted both resents and depends upon Monty, finding that he has good instincts. As the case leads them to old girlfriends, relatives, and the drug trade, they discover that the victim wasn't very likeable, and while a lot of people may have wanted him dead, no one seems likely to have gone to the level of planning that seems to have been done. Ted is forced to confront his issues with his past, and rely on his experience and intuition to draw out the real story behind this crime.
I love Glacier National Park and love to read a mystery where I am familiar with the landscape and geography. I also liked the depth of character shown here. Ted is a good officer, but he has never really dealt with the nightmare of what happened to him and the aftermath. That avoidance has affected his relationships and not allowed him to move forward in his personal life. We see what is going through his mind, his good instincts and his bad ones. He is real and likeable. The story is interesting and complex with a victim that is easy to find deserving of a bad end. But we see his history as well, and find that it is also complex. This is definitely an author to look for more by.