The lust of avarice as so totally seized upon mankind that their wealth seems rather to possess them than they possess their wealth.- Pliny the Elder
Never underestimate the power of jealousy and the power of envy to destroy. Never underestimate that. Oliver Stone
I had to double check. Really. It was absolutely imperative for me to find out if Mark Bentsen was really a first time author or if he was a well-known author writing under another name. Nope. First one. Well, will you look at that?
Bentsen has written a novel of suspense and mystery that can proudly stand amongst the works of the great suspense writers of today. His grasp of the written word is exceptional, drawing you into the story and refusing to let you go from the first line until the last page is turned.
To begin my paean to all things Bentsen, I must first point out the beauty of the language, as he takes you from the mountains and plains of Montana and up into the Southern Alberta plains. What first drew me to the book when it showed up as one of the daily selections offered by one of my “meet this new author” e-mails was the setting. Montana, and especially Glacier National Park, is breathtaking, allowing amazing vistas around every turn, whether it be rolling prairies or the stunning escarpments of the Rocky Mountains. I was hoping to drop myself into the landscape, and Bentsen does not disappoint, drawing mind pictures of great beauty. That, in itself, deserves a good book rating. I love books that offer me this short of “mental video” of what the characters are seeing.
The characters themselves are deeply real. Bonnie and Luke have had a hard time over the last year, as the droughts damaged their grasslands, forcing the sell off of their cattle and putting a severe strain on their marriage. But now, as financial stresses come off, they are thrilled to have Bonnie, a well-known wildlife photographer, asked to speak at a conference in the amazing Glacier National Park. A chance to grow Bonnie’s business as well as take a well deserved vacation to one of the most beautiful spots on the Earth.
What happens to Bonnie and Luke is an intense roller coaster ride of terror, as Bonnie is taken during a visit to Cardston, Alberta, and no one at the RCMP, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, believes Luke when he reports her missing. What happens next is shocking, terrifying, and kept me reading straight through. I literally couldn’t put the book down.
There is a great deal of evil in the book, the kind of evil that one person will commit against another for reasons of greed, envy, and pure heartlessness. There are also a couple of people who are truly warm and helpful, going out of their way to do the right thing. There is one storyline that runs amongst the many in the book that was somewhat of a stretch for me, but it was completely necessary to the story, and actually made me give a mean little chuckle as the main character is pulled up short by his own petard for doing what all men of a certain age are bound to do – or to at least contemplate.
The denouement is intense, and kept me flipping pages at an astonishing rate, spinning along to the end while barely breathing. Overall? This is a highly recommended thriller/mystery novel. Just remember to start it only when you have the time to block out the rest of the world until you reach the end!
P.S. – LOVE the cover!!!!