A deeply troubled Chicago cop, suffering from hallucinations, travels to Wyoming in this debut novel.
If Dean Wister is looking for anything, it’s an escape. In the aftermath of personal tragedy and professional disaster, there are few other options afforded to him. At the very least, leaving Chicago for a while will get him away from citizens’ prying eyes, whether they’re hoping to see the firebrand cop they know and love or his trademark temper over the collapse of a major mob corruption case. And then there’s the fact that if they looked too closely, they might see the real depths of his fragility, up to and including his frequent, vivid hallucinations of his recently deceased wife. But visiting the Tetons and the Snake River, where he met his wife, doesn’t repair his haggard soul, and nearby Jackson Hole, Wyoming, isn’t as far removed from Dean’s big-city problems as he might expect. When a known mob hit man dies in an apparent car accident, both local law enforcement and Dean’s own task force assume he was up to no good. And while Dean is technically on leave, he can’t help but be pulled in. Although he quickly gains the support of the local sheriff’s department and the community, the case evolves into the toughest he’s faced. The mystery winds its way through three states and multiple social strata, with threads of political corruption, Mafia ties, money laundering, and, of course, murder before it all comes together. Wilson crafts a classic crime thriller plot and combines it with a complex sense of place in this multifaceted novel. The mystery is a joy to read, as its simple beginnings give way to a much more complicated truth with plenty of twists and turns to follow. What’s more, a rich cast of characters explores Jackson Hole and its unique mix of natural beauty, wealth, intricate politics, and rural charm. While the few moments without this sense of atmosphere can feel abrupt and some of the character descriptions are lacking or overly focused on women’s sexual attractiveness, most readers should quickly move past these minor quibbles and get lost in this immersive tale.
The mystery may bring readers to the table, but the vibrant characters and Jackson Hole setting should keep them turning pages.