White Sun Books, August 2021
This novel has several unusual elements, elements which only enhance the atmosphere of this interesting novel. The elements worth noting include the locale–northern Minnesota, the weather–winter, and the protagonist—a Vietnamese immigrant.
Crystal Nguyen is a bright and clever TV reporter working for a small television channel in northern Minnesota. Without complete agreement from her boss, she tackles illegal poaching she discovers in the frozen north woods. Nguyen immediately finds herself working against local residents who flout the law to satisfy their need to kill, and who never completely accede to laws regarding game management. And then, a mysterious adversary arises through the modern medium of the Internet.
A sub-plot concerns her training for a local biathlon competition. As a native of southeast Asia, Crystal had zero experience with snow and target shooting with a rifle wasn’t exactly part of her personal arsenal. So, her choice of the skiing in particular serves as a neat counterpoint to her dangerous efforts to identify local poachers. Her snow-filled off days of training to shoot straighter and ski faster add an effective different rhythm to the tale.
The author’s style is brisk and straight forward. The locale is well defined and described. The author drives the tension and the events surrounding Crystal’s personal and public quests in such a careful way that by the final chapter, readers will be cheering Crystal to victory on both snowy trails.