Book Review: In The Barren Ground by Loreth Anne White
Loreth Anne White may just be my favorite writer of crime thrillers at the moment. Her Angie Pallorino series is quite rightly one of Amazon’s best-sellers, but before Angie, there was Mountie cop Tana Larsson.
Twin Rivers, population 320, is the kind of town where secrets go to die. In the Barrens, a vast Canadian wilderness bordering the Arctic Circle, Tana Larsson doesn’t mind the cold or the endless winter nights. She’s got a secret of her own to keep. The mauling deaths of two scientists conducting environmental impact studies for a mining operation threatens to expose quite a few of Twin Rivers secrets, though… and some of them are worth killing for.
White has an incredibly descriptive style of writing, drawing pictures with her words that are so vivid you can almost feel the all-permeating cold, hear the shrieking wind of Arctic storms and the howl of wolves hunting in the night. With a healthy dollop of Native American lore mixed in with solid police detective work, Tana Larsson is doggedly determined to solve the case and get justice for the victims.
I had what I thought was a wild idea about the killer about halfway through the book which turned out to be correct, and looking back, it wasn’t that wild. Clues were there right from the beginning. It’s just that we’re so conditioned to believe serial killers are likely to fit a specific profile, a trap Larsson herself falls into as well, overlooking the real killer until it’s almost too late.
Though this is billed as romantic suspense, there’s really only the barest thread of romance in it between Tana and Crash, a bush pilot she works with only reluctantly before discovering there’s a lot more to him than meets the eye. That said, I absolutely believed in the slow-burn romance and Crash’s attitude towards Tana and her unborn baby was wonderful; he was totally prepared to accept both of them as a package deal. If you don’t like romance with your mysteries by assured that there’s nothing more than a single kiss right at the very end, but if you do, then I don’t think you’ll be too disappointed either.
Overall this is an incredible read, one which will transport you to the chill heart of the Canadian tundra, where strange, predatory things lurk in the long darkness and the wolves will clean up whatever remains. Atmospheric and chilling, this is definitely a 5-star read.