IN THE BARREN GROUND by Loreth Anne White


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A brutal mauling of two graduate students in the Canadian Arctic forces a police officer escaping her past to seek help from a pilot with questionable ethics.

Constable Tana Larsson, the daughter of a Scandinavian father and a First Nations Dogrib mother, came to the remote northern settlement of Twin Rivers for a fresh start after slipping down the same path of alcoholism and sexual exploitation that destroyed her mother. Her jurisdiction covers 17,500 square miles of sparsely populated wilderness, most of it only accessible by helicopter. When she is called one night to “The Barrens” to investigate the grizzly scene of a possible wolf attack that has left two researchers dead, the only sober pilot she can find is Cameron “Crash” O’Halloran, a former heroin addict who takes side jobs smuggling liquor and other contraband to various outposts frequented by wealthy adventurers and diamond prospectors. Tana soon finds evidence pointing to something other than wolves. There are old bones on the scene, eerily similar attacks that occurred in previous years, environmental concerns about the diamond mining operation nearby, and local lore about “soul eaters”—spirits of wild places. As her list of suspects grows, both human and supernatural, Tana proves herself to be a smart and competent investigator, and Crash is a worthy love interest who knows Tana needs help but not rescuing. There is more mystery than romance in this genre-bending novel. Readers looking for steamy sex to break the tension will not find it here, but for a moody, atmospheric, and chilling mystery/romance that perfectly captures the desolation of the Arctic, the growing relationship between Tana and Crash adds a touch of warmth, though perhaps not enough sexual tension.

While a bit light on the romance, the complex, absorbing, and unpredictable plot makes this novel a good attempt at mixing genres.

Pub Date: Aug. 16th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-5039-3623-2
Page count: 442pp
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2016


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