The great outdoors, strong women, dogs
If you like outdoorsy adventure mysteries or thrillers with a psychological edge, then check out Diane Les Becquets’ new book, The Last Woman in the Forest. It’s the story a young woman who loves the great outdoors and wants to work with dogs. She lands a dream job and falls in love with her mentor. After he dies — that’s not a spoiler — a few things he said to her during their relationship start to nag at her even more after she finds out he told some lies.
The action is set in the Northern Rockies and western states. There’s hiking, gear talk, and working scent dogs. If it wasn’t for women being murdered by a serial killer, reading this book would feel almost like a mini-vacation.
The style and intensity are very different, but reading this reminded me of early Nevada Barr mysteries.
Diane Les Becquets
I had it in my head that this is Les Becquets second novel. Turns out it’s her fifth! Her first three novels were Young Adult:
- The Stories of Mourning Creek
- Love, Cajun Style
- Seasons of Ice
Breaking Wild (2016) was her first adult mystery.
Les Becquets is currently on tour. To see if she’s coming to a town near you, check her website which is linked at the end of this post. My friend Erica attended her event at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, NH and wrote this wonderful event recap post.
The beginning of my review:
Disclaimer: this review was written by a dog lover.
This mystery got off to a bit of a slow start for me. It seemed a bit choppy, but once the plot was set up, the action took off and I didn’t want to put the book down.
Marian Whelan Engström is an outdoorsy woman who wants nothing more than to work with dogs and enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors. She finds work with a team of wildlife professionals who train and work with rescue dogs that scent out the scat of animal populations they’re collecting data on.
They work in remote areas under extreme conditions to collect information that’ll help assess the health of a wildlife population. They collect data on all shapes and sizes of critters, from grizzly bears on down to salamanders. Assignments take researchers all over the world, so relationships can be tough.
To read the rest of my review on Criminal Element please click here.
Dogs play a key part in this mystery and — this is a spoiler — a dog is horribly injured in a fur trap. The dog survives and retires with his handler. The scene is not gratuitous but rather depicts the real-life dangers dogs face while doing this sort of work.
Title: The Last Woman in the Forest
Author: Diane Les Becquets
Publisher: Berkley | March 5, 2019
Source: review copy via NetGalley
Bottom line: An exciting outdoor adventure mystery/thriller/suspense novel for readers who like strong women characters and dogs.