Department of the Interior Special Agent Ted Systead lives in Colorado now, but he’s been assigned to a murder case in Glacier National Park, Montana, where he grew up. However, it’s not a happy visit for him. He’s been haunted by the memories of his father’s horrendous death by a grizzly bear when Ted was only fourteen.
Ted’s a calm professional most of the time, but this case seems designed to disturb him. The victim was tied to a tree and killed by—you guessed it—a grizzly. Further, the supervisor of the park was the same man who blamed Ted’s father for careless camping practices all those years ago. It’s a difficult case, and throughout the investigation, Ted and his assistant Monty run into brick walls and unsavory characters. Meanwhile, Ted is reminded at every opportunity of the terrible events of his past and his paralyzing fear of bears.
The mystery itself was done very well, mixing a police procedural with a character study including interesting psychological twists. I had no idea who might have done the deed until it was revealed (although I don’t usually try to guess).
The book is filled with extremely expressive descriptions of the land, the weather, and the people. In fact, there were times when it was almost overkill, even though I normally enjoy description. Some passages were almost arrogant, in fact. Perhaps this wouldn’t have been an issue if one was reading instead of listening.
Mr. Bray’s narration was lacking in inflection and emotion, unfortunately. I enjoyed his work on “The Martian,” but this time, his monotone was difficult to get through. It reminded me over and over of Jack Webb’s “just the fact, ma’am” boring narration in the Dragnet TV series.
My conclusion: This was an interesting detective tale, but I recommend reading the book instead of listening to the audiobook. Contains plenty of violence but little bad language and no sex.