‘Vanishing Edge’ – National Parks Mystery #1 by Claire Kells

The rugged landscape of Sequoia National Park is a challenge on the best of days – but when a park ranger discovers an abandoned exclusive campsite with an empty tent and high-end technical gear scattered on the shores of an alpine lake, the wilderness takes on a sinister new hue. 

Thirty-two-year-old Felicity Harland – a former FBI agent who left the service in the wake of a personal tragedy and has taken her skills off the grid – is brought in as chief investigator. As a federal agent with the Investigative Services Bureau, she tackles crimes that occur on National Parks lands: unexplained falls, domestic disputes, and now a possible murder case. 

The private company that set up the exclusive camp won’t reveal their client list, leaving Felicity with zero clues. As she struggles to find a lead, she’s also haunted by a painful past that dogs her at every step. But when she meets Ferdinand Huxley, a Navy SEAL turned park ranger, she begins to see the value in not just working with a partner but trusting one, too. 

‘Vanishing Edge’ is the first book in a series of mysteries set in US National Parks. I picked it up because I liked the Sequoia setting, the book was free on Audible Plus and there was a dog in it.

It was an entertaining light read that was one part mystery, one part romance, one part woman-overcoming-personal-tragedy and three parts hiking through beautiful but demanding terrain. The dog didn’t have a speaking part.

The mystery wasn’t complex but it kept me guessing. The treks through the wilderness were ambitious, given the physical condition of our heroine (who, amongst other things, is recovering from a broken back) but it felt real. The romance was mainly of the bantering-while-we-come-to-terms-with-our-mutual-attraction kind. The dialogue was well done. The male lead was engaging. The female lead was a little bland at times.

I had enough fun with this to keep me listening but there wasn’t enough there to make me seek out the next book in the series although, if it was already in my vertiginous TBR pile, I’d be happy enough to read it.

I listened to the audiobook version of ‘Vanishing Edge’ narrated by Natalie Naudus. I liked the narration. I thought the tone and pace were both on target. I was surprised that the quality of the production wasn’t as high as I’d have expected. There were several points where the narrator had had to go back a read a paragraph again, which is fine, but these were poorly integrated into the audio – the aural equivalent of a jarring change in font in the text – which made them distracting.

‘Vanishing Edge’ is the letter V in my TBR ABC challenge.

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