The best novels of women sleuths in wild places

Pamela Beason Author Of Endangered
By Pamela Beason

The Books I Picked & Why

Killing Trail (A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery)

By Margaret Mizushima

Killing Trail (A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery)

Why this book?

I enjoy stories about close-knit communities like the rural area and Sheriff’s Department created in these Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries by Margaret Mizushima. The main character, Deputy Mattie Cobb, is no superhero, but she is kind, gutsy, and resilient under stressful circumstances. The events that Mattie and her K-9 partner Robo are called upon to investigate take place in the rugged Rocky Mountains, with their unpredictable weather and challenging topography. Animal lovers like me especially appreciate Mattie’s special relationship with German Shepherd Robo, as well as her affection for local veterinarian Cole Walker and his daughters. Killing Trail is the first book in this series, and Mizushima’s stories get better with every subsequent mystery. 


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Vanishing Edge

By Claire Kells

Vanishing Edge

Why this book?

The descriptions of Sequoia National Park in this debut novel painted vivid pictures in my mind, and I felt like I too was hiking there on an urgent mission. This novel introduced me to the Investigative Services Bureau, which became a recognized unit of the National Park Service in 2003. Although Agent Felicity Harland is recovering from wounds she incurred in her former FBI job, she’s determined to grit her teeth and solve a crime that demands miles and days of rugged cross-country travel. Every main character deserves a good sidekick, and this role is filled by Hux, a Navy SEAL turned park ranger, who respects Felicity’s skills and supports the mission without a hint of patronizing behavior, a refreshing change from the macho characters in many romantic suspense novels.


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Gator Aide (Rachel Porter Mysteries)

By Jessica Speart

Gator Aide (Rachel Porter Mysteries)

Why this book?

The Rachel Porter Mysteries by Jessica Speart are not well known, but they deserve to be. These books are available now only as Kindle ebooks and used mass-market paperbacks. Based on years of experience as an investigative journalist focusing on wildlife law enforcement and endangered species issues, the author created protagonist Rachel Porter, a new wildlife agent who is determined to protect animals wherever she is assigned, no matter what dangers and challenges may erupt from the environment, the local citizens, or her own bosses, who typically believe that she doesn’t belong in the field. Speart writes amazing scenes that are both suspenseful and funny, a trick that as an author I envy. I learned a lot about the illegal wildlife trade in each book, and I never tired of the quirky characters and Rachel’s fearless dedication to protecting wildlife at all costs


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A Superior Death

By Nevada Barr

A Superior Death

Why this book?

Nevada Barr worked as a ranger in the National Park Service, and if you yearn to explore more national parks as much as I do, she’s definitely the mystery author to read, with 19 mysteries set in a variety of national parks. It’s difficult for me to choose a favorite, but this novel, the second in the Anna Pigeon series, features Isle Royale National Park, a little-visited treasure in the Great Lakes that I hope to explore one day. I’m also a scuba diver, so I especially appreciate the tense underwater scenes, as well as all the eccentric NPS characters that Barr portrays so well. You’ll enjoy this book even if you’re not a diver, as well as all the other national park settings in the series. Nevada Barr has a true gift for describing natural places and interesting people. 


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A Solitude of Wolverines: A Novel of Suspense

By Alice Henderson

A Solitude of Wolverines: A Novel of Suspense

Why this book?

Alice Henderson is a new author in the environmental mystery subgenre, and this book is the first of a series. It’s clear from the novel’s start that wildlife biologist Alex Carter is not welcome in the rural Montana area, and the spooky setting of a remote lodge occupied only by the biologist seems almost reminiscent of The Shining at times. But for me, that creepiness is offset by interesting descriptions of the wild areas and the work of a wildlife biologist studying reclusive wolverines. A few details in the pursuit scene near the book’s conclusion strike me as a bit over the top, but overall, I enjoy this thrilling adventure in the wild, and I look forward to reading Henderson’s next book. 


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