The year 1974 marks an increasingly bitter war in the Michigan backwoods that the bad guys keep winning.
Poachers are the bad guys who exploit the streams, the fish and the law-abiding. Battling them are good guys like Grady Service, the outnumbered, underfunded Conservation Officers of the Department of Natural Resources. This prequel to Blue Wolf in Green Fires (2002) finds Grady recently returned from Vietnam, a younger, more impetuous version of the first-rate cop he’ll become. He’s been patrolling the Upper Peninsula’s vast and wild Mosquito Tract, but now he’s asked to go undercover in the inaptly named Garden, an area 21 miles long crammed with contention. His mission: conduct a one-man recon operation, Vietnam style, to find out how the poachers are organized and by whom. Accepting the assignment with an understandable lack of enthusiasm, he parachutes in the dead of a brutally cold night into enemy territory. His contact is the formidable Cecelia Lasurm, a Garden resident fed up with internecine warfare and willing to risk her neck for peace. Admirably courageous, she is also endlessly enigmatic. An odd couple to begin with, Grady and Cecelia learn to their mutual surprise that they make an effective team. “We’re a lot alike,” she tells him finally. “We both understand pain and decision.”
Engrossing stuff. Lots of well-plotted action and an offbeat, affecting love story.