A Solitude of Wolverines: a suspense fiction

Don’t go down to the woods tonight–who knows what you will find?
Something might be stalking you, and crawl right up behind
You might feel a cold, cold breath on your pretty neck
You’ll say that you ain’t scared… you’ll turn around to check…
Your eyes go wide, your knees go weak, you won’t know what to do
Don’t go down to the woods tonight–I wouldn’t if I were you!

–  performed by The Hellblinki Sextet

Fans of Nevada Barr and her hard-core National Park Ranger Anna Pigeon meet Alice Henderson’s “badass” wildlife biologist named Alex Carter. Like Nevada Barr, herself a former Park Ranger, Alice Henderson, an author of a science fiction series and suspense novels, is an experienced wildlife researcher. Her previous works include the dystopian series, The Skyfire Saga.

A Solitude of Wolverines (October 27, 2020) is her first book in a new suspense series and is set in Montana, high up in the Rocky Mountain wilderness. Alex Carter, an audacious female wildlife biologist, faces head-on, all types of wild creatures and dangers- wild, exotic, and human.

We meet Alex struggling with why she made the concession to put her boyfriend’s needs above her own  and move to the big city. Brad’s high-flying big city career has made him a demanding narcissist. Alex pines for a return to her life working in nature. Her achievements in conservation in the city haven’t met all her needs. While Alex is dealing with her failing relationship, she attends a conservation award ceremony and is nearly killed by a rabid anti-conservationist shooter. Rattled to her core, she jumps at the chance to leave the city to takeover a wolverine study in the Rocky Mountains wilderness of Montana.

The book excels in revealing Alex’s affinity for the natural world. As a woodsy woman, I found myself sharing time with Alex to the whispering wind in the trees, the sounds of creatures carrying on their daily lives, the joy of discovery of what lies just over the hill or a spotlighted wildflower captured in a sudden moment of shifting sunlight.  I also remember, like Alex, the unnatural sounds of impending danger, a sound out of synchrony with the normal harmony of the wilderness – a low threatening snort, the slithering in the grass too close for comfort, or the sense of being observed or stalked.

Most of the residents of the fictional town of Bitterroot, like other cloistered towns, disdain outlanders.  The recent creation of the Land Trust for Wildlife Conservation has everyone’s dander up. The land, the site of an abandoned large-scale ski resort, had been openly used by the locals to graze livestock and hunt game. The land is now off-limits. The ban is observed by some and abused by others.

After settling into the old ski lodge, Alex takes a deep breath and looks out the bedroom window reflecting on her trip to town the day before. She had used the old truck to pick up supplies in town and had been nearly forced off the road by a reckless driver. She became startled by finding a man placing a note under the windshield wipers of the truck. Now what?

You are not welcome here.
Leave while you can.

Our girl hitches up her gear and heads out to set up camera traps looking for wolverines. She will not be scared from her completing her mission. She is grateful for her childhood trips with her mother learning wilderness survival skills. And it won’t hurt that she has martial arts training.

As you head out into the mountainous wilderness with her, don’t lose track of your will to live. Forget your phone. There is no service. When you find yourself in danger, it is just you against  the unknown. And there are plenty of those things that go bump in the night.

I rated the book a solid 4 stars. The information about wolverines and information about endangered species was fascinating and informative. The suspense scenes were captivating. The exacting descriptions of her equipment and research skills was very interesting. I was pleased to see that our new heroine could take on the big guys – go girl!  The book wasn’t perfect. As a first book in a series, it felt mired down at times establishing the character. And let’s just say, her boy friend, Brad seemed distracting and unnecessary and phone calls to her best friend interrupted the tension from time to time.  Looking forward to the next book!

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