On Flashback Fridays I will share with you
the books I was not able to review
when they were first released that have been screaming at me
from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.
A Death in Eden: A Novel (A Sean Stranahan Mystery)
7th in Series
Setting – Montana
Publisher : Penguin Books (July 3, 2018)
Print length : 317 pages
Kindle ASIN : B077CTG2B5
When scarecrows appear in the cliffs above Montana’s famous Smith River and a little girl reports being chased by one in the night, state investigator Harold Little Feather is brought in to find the culprit. Are the menacing effigies related to a copper-mining project that threatens the purity of the Smith? That’s Harold’s initial suspicion, but his investigation takes an ominous turn when a decapitated body is found in the river.
As Harold’s search leads him back in time through the canyon’s history, Sean Stranahan launches his raft upriver. He has been hired to guide a floating party that includes Clint McCaine, the manager of the mine project; Bart Trueblood, the president of “Save The Smith,” a grassroots organization devoted to stopping the project; and the documentarian filming their arguments. McCaine and Trueblood grew up on the Smith on neighboring ranches, and as they travel downstream, it’s revealed that the two share a past that runs much deeper and darker than their opposing viewpoints.
The currents of the seemingly unrelated trips will soon flow together, and Stranahan’s long-time love Sheriff Martha Ettinger will enter the fray as the boats hurtle toward a date with danger at a place called Table Rock.
There is something strange happening along the Smith River in Montana. Several scarecrows have been erected on the cliffs above the endangered waterway. Is someone putting them up to protest the proposed copper-mining project or is there something else going on. After a little girl claims to have been chased by one of the scarecrows State Investigator Harold Little Feather is brought in to put the matter to rest. Instead, his investigation turns up a headless body floating in the river.
While Investigator Little Feather digs deep into the canyon’s history to find answers, our protagonist Sean Stranahan is hired to guide a floating party down the river. The party includes the manager of the mine project, Clint McCaine, and the president of “Save the Smith”, Bart Trueblood, his group is trying everything to stop the mine project. They are joined by a documentarian who is filming their journey down the river and their arguments about the project.
Soon Sean’s group and Harold Little Feather come together and Sheriff Martha Ettinger joins them as they set up for a dangerous showdown.
I have enjoyed this series from the start and am a huge fan of the author’s laid-back writing style. From casting a line in the water to the characters traversing up, down, and around the river and its cliffs everything just comes to life. You can almost hear the rush of the water, smell the smoke from the campfires, and reach out and touch the cliffs. Mr. McCafferty does this better than many other authors that I have read. He really takes his readers on the journey.
This time our characters are a ways away from home and we meet several new characters with their own agendas. Harold Little Feather really shares the spotlight with Sean and Martha this time. He had expected a pretty low-key investigation so he invited the son he barely knows to meet up with him for the trip for a bit of bonding. I enjoyed getting to know him better and meeting his son very much. The acidic documentarian, Lillian Cartwright, brings her own drama to the situation. Anything to make a name for herself as she tees up “discussions” between McCaine and Trueblood. But there is a dark underbelly to this story. Someone has a score to settle and will go to any lengths to get what they want.
I was really drawn into this book by so many things. The fact that the scarecrows were located by ancient petroglyphs left by Native Americans. The history of it all was very captivating along with the mystery of Why? The Smith River itself and that people wait years for their names to be drawn in a lottery for the opportunity to float down the famous river. The dangers faced when you stop to camp like wild animals and rattlesnakes and other humans as well. All the character’s interactions were so enjoyable to observe.
The author’s keen wit can be felt throughout the story. Especially when it comes to Sean and Martha. Where will their relationship lead? I wonder if we will ever know but until then they do this unique dance throughout each story. One thing I do know is that they have each other’s back. When the bullets start to fly or a threatening menace arrives on the scene they will pull out all the stops to rescue each other and save the good people caught in the chaos. This time I was right up to the very edge of my seat and I am surprised there wasn’t smoke pouring out of my Kindle as everything came to a head.
A Death in Eden has become my favorite book in the series so far. Keith McCafferty is a superb storyteller. So much happens within the pages of this book it is almost impossible to put down while you are reading and it is a story that will stick with you long after you reach the end.
*Note the story does contain some explicit language.
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About The Author
Keith McCafferty is the Survival and Outdoor Skills Editor of Field & Stream. He has written articles for publications as diverse as Fly Fisherman Magazine, Mother Earth News, Gray’s Sporting Journal, and the Chicago Tribune, and on subjects ranging from mosquitoes to wolves to mercenaries and exorcism. Based in Montana and working on assignment around the globe–he recently spent a month in India trekking the Himalayas, fishing for golden mahseer, and studying tigers–Keith has won numerous awards, including the Robert Traver Award for angling literature. He has twice been a finalist for a National Magazine Award. Find out more about Keith and his books on his webpage here.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”