A trip to Yosemite turns deadly for an archaeologist, his family, and the old climbing friends the trip is reuniting him with.
Chuck Bender’s multitasking trip to Yosemite packs a little bit of every part of his life into a few days in the great outdoors. While his overarching purpose is to do historical research on whatever happened to Stephen Grover, a prospector whose search for gold in Yosemite Valley ended badly, the trip doubles as a reunion with old friends and a well-earned family vacation. Meeting up with old climbing companions like Jimmy O’Reilly, Ponch Stilwell, and Thorpe Alstad will provide a chance for the friends, who’ve put in serious time at Yosemite's Camp 4, to reminisce about old adventures while challenging each other in the Yosemite Slam climbing contest that same weekend. Chuck is ready to pass the torch to his barely teenage stepdaughter, Carmelita, though her mother, Janelle, isn’t so sure that Carm’s first climb should be in a competitive atmosphere even if the girl does seem to be a climbing prodigy. An accident at the competition practice puts Chuck in the cross hairs of the rangers leading Yosemite’s Serious Accident Investigation Team, who seem mysteriously determined to find fault with him. More worrisome still is the absence of Thorpe, whose risk-taking YouTube videos of himself flying in a wingsuit indicate that whatever’s happened to him could stem from causes natural or otherwise. Chuck’s work on the Grover case leads him and his family on a path that connects the past to a present in which someone seems determined to keep the truth from coming to light.
As always, the highlight of Graham’s National Park Mystery series (Yellowstone Standoff, 2016, etc.) is his extensive knowledge of the parks system, its lands, and its people.