Review: The Wild Inside


The Wild Inside
The Wild Inside by Christine Carbo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not usually a fan of the police procedural, but the wilderness aspect of this one intrigued me. I’m not at all sorry I read it.

Ted Systead listened to the sounds of his father being dragged away and mauled by a grizzly bear while on a camping trip in Glacier National Forest in 1987. Now, some 25 years later and a special agent who investigates crimes committed in the national parks, Systead returns to Glacier to investigate a case in which a despicable meth user was Duct-taped to a tree, shot in the torso, and left alone. The victim was found by a grizzly bear and used as pre-hibernation food. Can Systead find the killer, or will his own past be his undoing?

There were several things I loved about this book. The layering of the characters, particularly Ted Systead, was very well done. Watching him work this case while still struggling to come to terms with the death of his father was fascinating. His actions and reactions were completely believable. The build-up to the reveal of who the murderer is was also well done. I really liked the way information about the national parks and about grizzly behavior was interwoven with the plot without ever feeling like I was reading a treatise on the subjects.

This may sound totally sexist, but Christine Carbo is one of the best women I have ever read in terms of a woman portraying a man. Not once did I pull back from the story and think, “A guy would never think something like that.” Quite the opposite. Systead’s emotions seemed spot on.

I’m still not a fan of the meticulous detailing of mundane things that has to be done in this kind of novel. I understand why it’s necessary in a novel in which the protagonist is a detective and has to constantly observe his environment in search of unexpected clues, but often that level of detail is simply providing red herrings so that the details that mean something to the story don’t stand out so much, and that just irritates me. It’s a very minor concern in this case, though.

If you like mysteries or outdoor adventure novels, I think you’ll like this one. It really is an excellent read.

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