Richard Carlyle, a seasoned professor of criminology, returns each spring to the territory he knows best – the tumultuous waters of the Hudson Gorge. Years ago, he worked in the rafting business for nearly a decade as a whitewater raft guide. Now, during the season, he helps groom those awaiting licensure. His first trip out this year with a young guide, Sanders, turns fatal when his raft unexpectedly slams into a rock, and Sanders is thrown into the frigid waters. His feet lodge under a boulder, and he slowly drowns. After another guide’s fate turns deadly, Carlyle is certain chance is not to blame; someone is meticulously setting traps meant to harm. However, he proposes, the perpetrator’s intended target is Ryan Marshall, the owner of the business.
The head of the DEC (the licensing authority) insists Carlyle supervise all future expeditions due to his expertise and status. As the season progresses onward, two serious injuries occur. Through observation and research, collaboration with authorities, and clinical knowledge, Carlyle uncovers the mystery behind the madness: The one whose guilty of the recent savagery is a former employee of Marshall’s whose grandfather was killed as a result of a land dispute with Marshall’s father. With the aid of local law officials, Carlyle tracks the killer down and attempts to negotiate with him, hoping to avoid a blood bath of unnecessary proportion. The cabin he’s sheltering in, ignites in flames, taking him with it, intended collateral that concludes a violent spree of vengeance.
Author Ronald M. Berger has some published works, but this is his first novel. It’s well written and is a relatively quick read. He enables readers to create vivid images of the landscape, the crime scenes, and the city in which it all takes place by his detailed descriptions, many of which include magnificent imagery. For example, in highlighting an entrance location to the woods, Berger writes: “The area had no trails, not even a decent footpath. It was too remote for the snowmobile guys, people who cruised half-sober all night in terrain that sane people would not approach. There were no houses, backwoods cabins, or ranger outposts where a man could hide or layover in case he got in trouble. Even hunters, afraid of getting lost in the dense woods south of the river, stayed clear of the region.” His delineations bring life and clarity to the story.
Suspense is woven throughout this murder mystery. There’s plenty of action to keep readers interested and turning the pages, and it’s challenging to determine who the perpetrator is. Not until close to the end, does it become evident.
The author’s depth of knowledge regarding specific types of crimes and those who engage in them is vast. The psychological profiling of the antagonist and the investigational aspects of the atrocities he commits are fascinating components of the story. Additionally, the author was a licensed whitewater raft guide on the Hudson River for five years, which adds depth and real-life experience to his work.
This is a solid fictional narrative that will appeal to a variety of audiences, young and old alike. Readers need not have a liking for or an interest in whitewater rafting to enjoy and relate to the story. The characters are well developed, and the plot is intriguing.
|Author||Ronald M. Berger|
|Page Count||232 pages|
|Amazon||Buy this Book|
|Category||Mystery, Crime & Thriller|