Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Book Review: Mortal Fall by Christine Carbo

Mortal Fall
Author: Christine Carbo
Publication: Atria Books (May 31, 2016)

Description: A wildlife biologist’s shocking death leads to chilling discoveries about a home for troubled teens in Christine Carbo’s haunting and compelling new crime novel set in the wilds of Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park police officer Monty Harris knows that each summer at least one person—be it a reckless, arrogant climber or a distracted hiker—will meet tragedy in the park. But Paul “Wolfie” Sedgewick’s fatal fall from the sheer cliffs near Going-To-the-Sun Road is incomprehensible. Wolfie was an experienced and highly regarded wildlife biologist who knew all too well the perils that Glacier’s treacherous terrain presents—and how to avoid them.

The case, so close to home, has frayed park employee emotions. Yet calm and methodical lead investigator Monty senses in his gut that something isn’t right. So when whispers of irresponsibility or suicide emerge, tarnishing Wolfie’s reputation, Monty dedicates himself to uncovering the truth, for the sake of the man’s family and to satisfy his own persistent sense of unease.

Monty discovers that Wolfie’s zealous studies of Glacier’s mysterious, embattled wolverine population, so vital to park ecology, had met resistance, both local and federal. To muddy the waters further, a wilderness facility for rehabilitating troubled teens—one that Monty’s older brother attended—may have a disturbing connection to the case. As Monty delves further into an investigation that goes deeper than he ever imagined, he wrestles with the demons of his past, which lead back to harsh betrayals he thought he’d buried long ago.

And then a second body is found.

My Thoughts: Monty Harris is investing the death of wildlife biologist Paul "Wolfie" Sedgewick. He was found at the bottom of a cliff in Glacier National Park. Was it an accident? A suicide? Or a murder? As Monty investigates, he discovers that there were lots of political implications of the death. Wolfie's study of the wolverine's life in the park or outside it could have results that would anger the people who live near the park and who want to have the right to hunt or develop or otherwise use the lands. Making wolverines a protected species would hinder their plans. Monty wants to solve the case for Wolfie's family and also for his own sense of order.

Monty is an interesting character who grew up in a very dysfunctional home. His father was a functioning alcoholic; his mother suffered from paranoia and depressions; and his older brother was a bully with a violent temper who tortured Monty when he was a child. Now, his mother is dead in a car crash; his father is living with another woman; and Monty hasn't seen his brother for four years despite the fact that they both live in the same area. It seems to me that Monty has a lot of unresolved psychological issues that are manifesting in his obsessive need for order. He and his wife have been separated for ten months because of her recent desire to have children despite agreeing at the start of the marriage that they would remain childless. This lack of resolution of his marriage is also causing a lot of stress for Monty.

The whole case ramps up when a second body is found near the first. Monty is now trying to connect the two victims and figure out who killed them. Monty's investigation takes him into his brother's past at Glacier Academy where he was sent when he began using drugs as a teen. The second victim was an abusive counselor at the school when Monty's brother was there.

If you like a mystery with a troubled detective who spends a lot of time in his own head, this is the story for you. It also has great descriptions of the beauty and majesty of Glacier National Park.

Favorite Quote:
I looked around, but didn't say anything. He was right, there was nothing fair out here at all in these mountains. But there was nothing unfair in them either. Glacier Park extends about sixty miles along the Montana Rockies and every inch of its jutting contours and colorful rock layers hollers stories of a landscape that is billions of years old. The mountains towered above us daily, and you either survived them or you didn't.
I received this book for review from the publisher. You can buy your copy here.

1 comment:

  1. Yep, I think I'd like this one. And I love the setting. There's something about the parks that always draws me in.


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