Deadly Currents, is the first book in my new Rocky Mountain Outdoor Adventures mystery series starring whitewater river ranger Mandy Tanner. The book has already received stellar reviews from the big four review publications, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, on-line reviewers and, most importantly, from readers who live and work in its real setting.
Being a person who loves and works in the outdoors every day, Mandy is one in a long line of outdoor-oriented mystery protagonists. These include:
- Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon, a Ranger in various National Parks,
- C. J. Box’s Joe Pickett, a Game Warden in Wyoming,
- Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak, an ex-DA Investigator in Alaska,
- Joseph Heywood’s Grady Service, a Conservation Officer in Michigan,
- Sue Henry’s Jessie Arnold, a Dog Sled Racer in Alaska,
- Steve Hamilton’s Alex McKnight, a PI who runs a hunting camp in Michigan,
- Sandi Ault’s Jamaica Wild, a BLM Resource-protection Agent in New Mexico,
- William Kent Krueger’s Cork O’Connor, an ex-sheriff and PI in Minnesota,
- Jessica Speart’s Rachel Porter, a Fish and Wildlife agent in Louisiana, and many more.
The regional landscape is an essential element of the scene-setting in these series, and it factors into the backstory, ethics and training of the characters. Also, the challenges the outdoor setting provides are woven into the plots, adding problems that the protagonist most overcome in addition to solving the murder. And these problems provided by the environment can be life-or-death issues in themselves, including horrendous storms, raging wildfires, bone-numbing cold and being lost in an unforgiving wilderness without supplies, food, or water.
With these outdoor-oriented series, readers can experience the splash of a whitewater rapid, the whistle of a prairie wind on a trail ride, the roar of a crackling wildfire, the howl of a wild wolf and more from the security and comfort of their easy chairs. And Deadly Currents is true to the subgenre, plunging the reader into the Arkansas River in Colorado in the first chapter when a raft flips in a Class IV rapid, spilling its occupants and forcing Mandy to leap to the rescue.
The river permeates every scene of Deadly Currents, even in influencing how the characters speak. It is the heart and soul of Salida, Colorado, where Mandy lives. It fuels the small town's economy and thrums in the blood of its “river rat” citizens who earn their living guiding, outfitting, and catering to all the needs of a flood of summer tourists eager to test their mettle against the rapids.
Paddling down whitewater rapids in kayaks and rafts is one of the nation's fastest growing outdoor sports. Whitewater enthusiasts might be stereotyped as mindless thrill-seekers with a death wish, but paddlers come from a cross-section of American society. They usually know the limits of their skills, and by choosing what class of rapids they run, they control the intensity of their experience. It is a life-long sport that nurtures a love for wild places. Today more than a quarter of all Americans participate in – or intend to participate in – running whitewater rivers.
My hope is that Deadly Currents will appeal not only to these people, but also to mystery readers who have no desire to experience whitewater rafting themselves, but are happy to ride along with Mandy in their minds while they puzzle out “whodunit.” Do you enjoy reading outdoor-oriented mysteries? Are you an outdoor enthusiast yourself, or do you prefer to just read about the challengers of the great outdoors?
http://bethgroundwater.com/ and her blog at http://bethgroundwater.blogspot.com/ .