The Wild Inside by Christine Carbo © 2015, Atria
Department of the Interior Special Agent Ted Systead is tabbed to investigate a murder in Glacier National Park. Someone duct-taped lowlife, Victor Lance to a tree, where he was mauled to death and partly eaten by a Grizzly. The tough part for Ted is that Ted witnessed his own father’s fatal Grizzly mauling in Glacier when Ted was only fourteen. So Wild is both a mystery and a man coming to grips with his past story. It works better as the latter, because the mystery is solved by some lucky pieces of evidence turning up rather than any smart deductions or Special Agent derring-do. Nonetheless, I stayed interested enough in finding out who offed the awful Vic to keep turning pages.
Carbo has Ted confront his fears and his past tragedy in believable form, thankfully not resorting to Ted going mano a mano with a bear. Indeed, no bears are harmed in the course of this novel, only a few dogs and Victor, and Victor deserves it.
I thought there could have been fewer pages devoted to police procedure, which in this case is pretty routine stuff, except for waiting for a Grizzly to take a dump—different, but not all that suspenseful. Ted was a likeable and flawed hero, however, and I wanted him to succeed professionally and personally. Wild was a pleasant story that gives you a good feel for Montana, and it is definitely staying on my shelf.
My son, Andrew, is a backpacking/rafting guide in Glacier. After reading what happened to Ted and Vic, I am going to make Andrew quit his job!