Pamela Beason

ISBN-13: 978-0425244982
Publisher: Penguin Group
Line: Berkley
Release Date: Dec 6, 2011
Pages: 320
Retail Price: 7.99

Genre: Mystery

Meet wildlife biologist and writer Summer "Sam" Westin, whose dream of saving the cougars is complicated when a boy vanishes from a campground in Utah...

A child has gone missing, and Sam Westin knows it's her fault. She nudged the boy down a dark path toward a man she presumed was his father. Now there's a media campaign targeting the cougars she helped rehabilitate and release a year ago, blaming them for the boy's disappearance. It's only when FBI Agent Chase Perez joins the case that human suspects are considered.

Clues lead Sam and Chase to the high country, where they comb the rocky canyons for evidence of the boy and for the one man who may be a vital witness. But as hours pass, and the media frenzy escalates, Sam fears they won't uncover the truth in time to save both the boy and the big cats...

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Summer “Sam” Westin is a wildlife biologist whose stint as a National Park Ranger has recently ended. She is now writing stories and taking photographs of cougars in the back country of Utah for “Save the Wilderness Fund” to raise awareness in protecting the area’s cougars. Her job of saving the cougars becomes harder than ever when a toddler disappears from a local campground and the media says young Zach could be the victim of a cougar attack.

I enjoy this type of outdoors mystery and like the Utah back country setting. While Sam isn’t a ranger anymore, her friend Kent Bergstrom is so through him, we get a little bit of an inside look at that life in this book. The information about the cougars is fascinating and adds a great touch to the story of the missing child. The mystery is a good one with enough human suspects in addition to the cougars to keep you guessing at the solution.

Endangered is an extremely well-written book, and this has the potential to be an outstanding series. It is an issue I have with the main character and some of her actions which brought down what could have been a 5-star book. At the very beginning of the book, I wasn’t sure I would like Sam at all. Had she been less worried about getting started on her hike to take photos for the Save the Wilderness website, she may have been able to prevent Zach’s disappearance. While nobody blames her, a different choice at the beginning would have made all the difference. To her credit, Sam doesn’t take this lightly and she is determined to help Zach, and make sure a wild cougar isn’t blamed for Zach’s disappearance if that isn’t what happened. She eventually proves her bravery and integrity, and I did warm up to her as the story unfolds.

While FBI agent and possible love interest Chase Perez seems like a good match for Sam, the relationship at between Sam and news anchor Adam Steele never seems realistic. They don’t have anything in common and Adam is obviously self-centered and shallow right from the beginning. Therefore, it seems strange that the independent, intelligent Sam would have ever been interested in him. It’s not a shock to see how Adam handles the information Sam provides to him about the missing child and the cougars, but it was surprising to me that she would trust him to do the right thing.

There are other characters in the book that we don’t really get to know. I like what I see of Kent and hope he plays a bigger role in future books. Sam also has a roommate, Blake, at her home in Bellingham, Washington that is mentioned by not really involved in the storyline. While that makes sense for this book, seeing more interaction between Sam and her friend in the future would show another side of Sam and could help make her more likeable.

Fans of C.J. Box, Rachel Speart, and Nevada Barr’s earlier books will enjoy the setting and premise of this promising new series. 

Reviewed by Christine