When her job in Boston ends, wildlife biologist Alex Carter is offered a position monitoring wolverines on a preserve in Montana. After a messy breakup with her boyfriend and the harrowing conclusion of the dedication ceremony of the wetlands preserve, Alex is more than ready to leave the city and head for the wilderness.
Even though she's greeted with a great deal of suspicion in the small town where she buys necessities, the job is perfect for Alex. The solitude is a balm for her spirit. Until she checks footage from one of the cameras she's set up and sees a badly injured man apparently lost and wandering in the wilderness. Search and Rescue are unable to find the man, and the attitude of local law enforcement makes Alex suspicious.
Her suspicions are confirmed when she realizes that she's stumbled upon something she was never supposed to have seen-- there's a far-reaching illegal operation being conducted here, and now she's a threat. She's going to need all the skills at her disposal just to stay alive.
When I learned that A Solitude of Wolverines was a mystery with a wildlife biologist as the main character, I perked up. When I learned that the book was written by an actual wildlife biologist, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Now I can say that this first Alex Carter mystery is a winner, and I can't wait to read more.
Wildlife and the wilderness are at the center of this story, and you can really get a feel for the type of conservation work wildlife biologists do. If you love all creatures great and small, there's even a bibliography so you can learn more about the animals being studied in the book. But if the wilderness is at the center of A Solitude of Wolverines, Alex Carter is its beating heart. When asked to lie about her findings for her bosses who have taken bribes in a previous job, Alex refuses in spectacular style knowing that she has a lot to lose by telling the truth.
This is not your usual female character. Her mother was an Air Force fighter pilot who devised games for her daughter that taught Alex how to think on her feet and use the items at hand for her survival. When something like that is mentioned in a book, you can take it to the bank that this is going to be a big factor in the story later on-- and it is. There are plenty of high octane action scenes in A Solitude of Wolverines, and there is no candy-coating of the consequences for neither man nor beast. (I mention this for those readers who might be a bit squeamish.)
The only thing that made me wonder about Alex is her choice of best friend and boyfriend. Anyone with two working brain cells should have been able to deduce that her boyfriend was a high maintenance waste of space, but I suppose that tells us that she makes mistakes like the rest of us mortals. Her best friend is a typical high rolling Hollywood actress, and that makes for an odd combination with the middle-of-nowhere loving Alex. I do have to admit that it's probably not a good idea for a main character-- no matter how dynamic-- to be a hermit. There's also a shadowy third character in Alex's orbit. One that she didn't realize she had, and it would appear that this dangerous shadow will figure more prominently in the next book. Why is this person a "dangerous shadow"? Because he's Alex's serial killer guardian angel. How's that for a shocker!
A Solitude of Wolverines is a momentous opening chapter in Alex Carter's story, one that changes her: "A new sensation spread inside of her, a loss of innocence." I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what she does next.
A Solitude of Wolverines by Alice Henderson
William Morrow © 2020
eBook, 320 pages
Amateur Sleuth, #1 Alex Carter mystery
Source: Net Galley