This is a good book for a vacation read. The main character is male, so I think both male and female will enjoy it if they accept that it is an easy and somewhat exciting very light read. I had read another book by this author, but it seemed to have far more substance. Still, if you are looking for a quick, mindless endeavor, it would be a viable choice.
I believe that it would have been more intriguing absent the silly romantic scenes, one such being the sighting of a honeymoon couple that was noticed fornicating outdoors, thinking they were unnoticed. The ranger, Mike Bowditch and his girlfriend, Stacy, decided to subtly ridicule them. The obvious purpose of the scene seemed to be to amuse and titillate the reader since it certainly did not enhance the narrative. Also, in this novel, the ranger had an unconventional sidekick with him, against the rules most of the time. His girlfriend, Stacy was a really big part of the story, although, from the beginning, she was not a ranger involved in the investigation of the whereabouts of two missing young women hikers, which preoccupied Bowditch.
Her presence and their romantic interludes made the story less plausible for me as much of the story became more about the Stacy‘s mishaps, rather than the original investigation of two missing young, female hikers. When they are found, Stacey legitimately joins the investigation as a wildlife biologist when coyotes are implicated in their disappearance. They were hiking in a remote region of The Appalachian Trail, in Maine.
In order to take the tale into modernity, I expect, and to be more inclusive, the two hikers are described as gay. It, like the silly honeymoon sex scene, had no real relevance to the plot. It seems to me that many authors, perhaps in the interest of proving their liberal bent, are including diverse sexual interests into their latest novels which neither enhance nor detract but serve no real purpose. For me, the sexual predilection of a character holds no particular importance unless the story is about their unjust treatment. That theme was not highly developed in this book and certainly no mention was made of other characters heterosexuality. However, the diversity of characters included oddball ministers (bringing organized religion into the spotlight rather negatively), ex-convicts, the mentally disabled, overweight hikers, honeymooners, mountain men, thugs and more.
Both Mike and Stacey are known for being loose cannons, but Mike has been trying to keep his impetuosity under wraps so that he can become a more respected ranger. His reputation has followed him, though, and he has to work hard to correct it. His relationship with his girlfriend forces him to stretch that envelope, on occasion.
Even with its drawbacks, which some people will actually enjoy, as a beach read this will hold your attention and require little effort or the involvement of your brain.
The beauty of the state of Maine is emphasized, and anyone who has been there will agree. The positives and negatives of hiking in remote areas is stressed, as well as the wonderful service that the Rangers provide to tourists and residents alike. Some conclusions will seem contrived as the investigation broadens and the number of possible suspects exhibiting suspicious behavior increases. However, it comes to a satisfying conclusion as the mystery of the missing hikers and other investigations are all resolved. Justice prevails!
It is read evenly and well by Henry Levya. His modulated voice portrayed the different characters well.