Married but living a thousand miles from her bridegroom, National Park Service ranger Anna Pigeon gets another harsh lesson in just how badly men can behave.
You’d expect jubilation when two of the three young girls missing from their campsite and presumed dead emerge from the wilderness. But in Rocky Mountain National Park, where Anna’s dream job as district ranger has separated her from her husband, Paul Davidson, the return of Beth Dwayne, 12, and Alexis Sheppard, 13, spooks Anna but good. The girls’ closemouthed families, stalwart members of the Reformed Saints, refuse to let them talk to psychiatrists, get examined by rape counselors or accept any but lifesaving medical assistance. And Robert Proffit, the born-again youth group leader on whose watch they disappeared, is acting not so suspiciously as weirdly. Counting for help on backcountry ranger Raymond Bleeker and seasonal ranger Rita Perry, Anna’s not at all sure she can trust them. Her most dependable ally will be paraplegic climber Heath Jarrod, still raging over the accident that put her in a wheelchair. Together and separately, the two women will confront a series of human predators who show how thin a line separates men from beasts.
If the escalating horrors, which make Anna’s first 12 novels (High Country, 2004, etc.) seem kind and gentle, don’t stand your hair on end, make an emergency appointment with a therapist, or book a tour of the National Parks, where you’ll evidently be right at home.