Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Antler Dust by Mark Stevens

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of Antler Dust by Mark Stevens. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Antler Dust by Mark Stevens

Antler Dust by Mark Stevens

Paandaa Entertainment (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-9774188-1-2 (0977418812)
ISBN-13: 978-1-9774188-1-7 (9780977418817)
Publication Date: March 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): On the opening day of the hunting season in the Colorado Flat Tops wilderness, two men go missing. The first is a hunting guide. The second is an animal rights protestor who believes his creative suicide will galvanize the animal rights movement.

Hunting guide Allison Coil hears a distant rifle shot and sees just enough through the swirling snow to believe somebody knows something-and isn't coming forward. But what exactly did she see?

Outfitter George Grumley fends off the formal investigation and works to discourage the informal and persistent inquiries by Coil. Grumley knows no limits in the effort to protect his guide service, which caters to fat-cat clients. Who needs hunting regulations when technology can produce the quickest and most thrilling hunt that money can buy?

Dawn Ellenberg, lead dog of the animal rights group FATE - Fighting Animal Torture Everywhere - plots a public relations blitz behind the story of hunter who wipes off his camouflage face paint and joins their crusade. The public relations coup is too good to be true. FATE turns up the heat on the police in Glenwood Springs, who seem clueless in their attempts to solve the death of the protestor.

And Trudy Grumley, wife of the notorious outfitter, takes a few bold steps outside her comfort zone and takes a few tentative steps through the fog of a limiting disease. She begins a frightening ordeal that could-just maybe-lead to independence. Along the way, she befriends Coil and the pair chart a course to uncover the truth, no matter where that course leads.

Review: Mark Stevens’ debut thriller, Antler Dust, chronicles a few weeks in the lives of hunters and their guides. It is elk and deer hunting season in Colorado with hunters swarming to the Rocky Mountains to nail their big one. Two men are shot on that first day. Rocky Carnivitas, a guide, is deliberately killed for reasons known only the killer. Rocky is pulled away from the site of the shooting and put under a tree in the snow. Only one problem: from a distance, and through a heavy snowfall, new guide Allison Coil witnesses what she thinks is someone dragging an animal or a body through the heavy snow.

Then there is a suicidal hunter, Ray Stern, who believes if he were killed the animal rights people would have more fodder. His group, FATE (Fighting Animal Torture Everywhere), is on the ground protesting. Ray goes up into the mountain, wraps himself in deerskin, and waits for a hunter. When Dean Applegate sees what he thinks is a deer, he shoots and kills Ray. Frightened, Dean runs down the mountain and joins the protesters saying he could not take the killing of any more animals.

Allison tells the sheriff what she thinks she has seen, but when she gets no response from him, she tells the park ranger who is also skeptical. When Rocky does not return to the camp for four days, they begin to listen to her. The question becomes, why was Rocky killed and by whom?

But the answer is obvious. Antler Dust is a tiresome novel in that there is no mystery. Every time a person is hurt or killed the reader knows who did it and why. Much of the story is repetitive and it becomes apparent what is going to happen next. There is no thrill of the hunt, metaphorical or otherwise, in this book.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Antler Dust and to Breakthrough Promotions for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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