This was So, So Good!! What a wild ride!
Special Agent Felicity Harland was unstoppable! This former FBI agent had a lot to prove to her new superiors at the ISB Federal Agency. She sported a near-bionic spine after a catastrophic hiking accident in the Australian Outback three years earlier. There were more metal rods and screws than bones in her back after all the surgeries required to get her back on her feet again. Was she going to be equal to the task of hiking over hundreds of miles to get to accident and crime sites and conduct a proper investigation? I sat back and watched with great satisfaction as she wiped the disbelieving smirks off of all her superiors’ faces! Go, Harland!!
Hux (Ferdinand) Huxley is a former Navy Seal, now working as a Sequoia National Park Ranger. He was a Special Forces “Finder” in Afghanistan, and he used those skills to assist Special Agent Harland with her investigation into the mysterious disappearance of two high maintenance glampers. (I loved every moment that Hux’s exuberant character appeared in this story: he stole the entire show!!)
Hux was irrepressibly cheerful. His boundless energy and enthusiasm were infectious. I, like Felicity, welcomed his “can-do/never say die” presence on those arduous treks across the Sequoia National Parklands.
Felicity and Hux meshed so well together. Their witty, deprecating banter was delightful: I snorted with laughter more than once! But, at the same time, they were unfailingly supportive and respectful of one another. As the case progressed, Felicity was reluctant to relinquish Hux’s assistance in her investigations and she always found an excuse to keep him by her side.
Did I sense a hint of attraction between these two? Maaybee!?! I could be reading too much into all that wickedly hilarious banter, but, never fear, these two professionals were squarely focused on the job at hand! (I’m hoping the author decides to create her own ongoing investigative series with these two as the recurring team of special agents. Their ratings appeal as a partnership is already off the charts for me!)
Did I guess “whodunnit?” I have to admit that I had my suspicions about the culprit very early on – despite all the red herrings and misdirection strewn in the reader’s path. I also have to sheepishly admit that I suspected everyone at some point, and I got quite a few things totally wrong: I was literally led down the wrong garden path on more than one occasion! No matter! This story was so well written, and the characters were so true to life and endearing that I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to stay out there on the Sequoia mountain ridge in this thrilling adventure and lose myself with Harland and Hux (and Harland’s dog, Ollie!) in the wilds of that glorious backwoods landscape.
The descriptions of Precipice Lake, and the trail heading out to it, were captivating. I could picture it all so clearly: Claire Kells’ writing skills were more than equal to the task!
The last few chapters will have you on the edge of your seat. I realized I was holding my breath as the action literally exploded, catapulting us towards a nail-biting, fraught ending! I was impressed! When I finally turned the last page, and my heart stopped galloping about, I heaved an intensely satisfied sigh! I highly, highly recommend this truly excellent thriller: I had a hard time putting this book down until I reached the very last page! 10 out of 5 well deserved stars!!!
(Expected publication date: November 9, 2021 by Crooked Lane Books.)
ENCHANTING SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK