In Horton’s hard-hitting debut, a realistic thriller with sci-fi elements, vicious murders and a possible government coverup bring the FBI to sleepy Montana.
In the mountains near Kalispell, Mont., victim specialist Kyle Andrews, from Seattle, joins agent Lewis Edwards, also of the FBI, to investigate the brutal murders of three men. The victims were staying in a cabin near the Hungry Horse reservoir, owned by an older couple, Bill and Audrey Jones. Body parts were found, prompting the locals to wonder if it was someone or something that did the killing. Working with Sheriff Grayhawk and Tony Marasco of the Kalispell FBI, Kyle hopes to secure a promotion if all goes well. When Bill and Audrey Jones are also brutally murdered, their orphaned granddaughter, Carrie Daniels, visits Kalispell to say goodbye to her beloved grandparents; but her job as a reporter for the Denver Enquirer makes it hard for her not to investigate. Kyle is immediately struck by Carrie’s beauty and strength, especially considering all she’s been through—losing her parents and now her grandparents and dealing with her recent split from an abusive ex-boyfriend. Carrie and Kyle form a stronger bond when they find a mysterious connection between the murders and a government-linked company called GenTech. Nathan, a hit man hired by GenTech, is severing anything that links the company and the government to the cause of the Hungry Horse murders—Carrie and Kyle included. Horton expertly builds suspense around the murders, while the emotional conflict between Sheriff Grayhawk and his Native American grandmother highlights the question of whether the perpetrator might be supernatural. Fortunately, the lean writing isn’t bulky or overwrought, and the storylines convincingly intertwine in the well-established plot. The government link adds to the intrigue, and hints of the supernatural invigorate this thriller. Horton compellingly describes Sheriff Grayhawk’s unease as he approaches the shadows that lurk in the mountains: “In spite of the light of the moon, it was still impossible to see into the dark recesses of the forest, but that didn’t matter to George. He knew something was out there. He could sense it.”
The gripping story of a shadowy killer, especially thrilling for sci-fi fans.