Amy Raye Latour, one of the protagonists in Breaking Wild, by Diane Les Besquets, just feels the need to get away from it all, and she does that by going to wild places. On this particular instance, she goes with a hunting party of two men, leaving her husband and children behind, when she’s separated from her companions in bad weather and fails to make it back to camp. A massive hunt begins for her, but the weather turns worse and the would-be rescuers begin to believe they’re looking for a body and not a living person. One searcher, Ranger Pru Hathaway, refuses to believe Amy is dead, and continues looking for her, in the process finding out more and more about Amy and her shadowy past. The book intercuts between Amy’s struggle to survive and Pru’s increasingly desperate search for the missing woman as secrets are revealed and time is running out. If you’re ready for a wild ride through dangerous wildernesses and the secrets of the human heart, go for Breaking Wild.
If you’re interested in a darker and more psychologically focused mystery, try Find Her, by Lisa Gardner. Flora Dane was an ordinary college student when she was kidnapped and held prisoner for a year and a half, enduring more than she ever dreamed was possible. When she escaped miraculously, she dedicated herself to rebuilding her life and putting that nightmare behind her. Or has she? A detective investigating the murder of a man who kidnapped and abused other young women finds links to Flora, and discovers that Flora has been involved, in one way or another, with three other suspects in the five years since her escape. Has she turned into a vigilante? Could she possibly help the police investigate the disappearance of another college student under circumstances similar to hers? And then when Flora herself disappears, the detective realizes that something much more sinister is going on, and she may not escape this time, without a lot of help from the detective, who needs to find her, and fast.
But perhaps you’re not in the mood for dark and scary. Perhaps you’re more interested in the exploits of a couple of misfit private investigators whose major skills seem to be in the areas of getting in trouble and making messes of things. If that’s your preference, then you should definitely read Honky Tonk Samurai (don’t you just love that name? Wouldn’t that be enough to make you pick up the book even if you didn’t know anything else about it?) by Joe R. Lansdale. The two main characters are Hap, a former 1960’s rebel, and his partner Leonard, a tough gay black Vietnam veteran. They start out doing a routine surveillance in Texas, which seems pretty dull until they see a man abusing a dog, and Leonard takes matters into his own fists. Naturally, the dog owner now wants to press charges against Leonard, making life complicated. It gets more complicated when Lily Buckner, a seemingly sweet grandmotherly type, shows up in their office and threatens to release a video of Leonard beating up the dog owner unless the pair find her missing granddaughter. A little investigation reveals that the used car dealership which was the last place anyone saw the granddaughter happened to be the center of a prostitution ring, and suddenly “complicated” is much too mild a term for the case. The characters are vivid and unique, the dialogue snappy and smart, and the pacing fast and furious. Spend some time in the inimitable company of Hap and Leonard and you’ll be glad you did.