ARC Review: “The Gorge” by Ronald M. Berger

Author: Ronald M. Berger
Publication Date: July 10th, 2020
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Outdoors
Format: eBook
Find it on: NetGalley, Goodreads

Many thanks to the author, Ronald M. Berger, and publisher BooksGoSocial, for providing a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

It is not yet spring in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. Whitewater rafting season has already begun, however. Streams filled with snowmelt are pouring into the Hudson Gorge, an almost inaccessible twelve-mile canyon. But someone who knows every foot of the backcountry is stalking those who are attempting to run the Gorge as the river reaches flood stage.

Richard Carlyle, a former raft guide and veteran criminologist working with state and local police, is desperately searching for the person who has murdered two people already. Tracking the killer to a remote cabin in the Gorge, Carlyle confronts an ecoterrorist with a grudge against anyone who dares to invade his territory.

From NetGalley

Review

TLDR; An un-putdownable white water rafting thriller!

This rafting-centric thriller is a white knuckle ride, no experience required. Brimming with crisp pine-scented air and merciless frigid river water, it was everything I wanted in an outdoorsy read.

Here we follow our main character, Richard Carlyle, a criminology professor and former rafting guide as he leads an investigation into the events at Ryan Marshall’s family river business. Intelligent and experienced in his field, Carlyle is nevertheless struggling to get tenure at the university. As the story progresses and rafting guides are getting picked off in a series of apparent ‘accidents,’ he sees the opportunity as a chance to prove his worth both as far as his career is concerned as well as to cement his rafting experience in the minds of former guide colleagues. But Marshall is not entirely helpful, concern for his business operations and profit clouding his head. Most of the book follows this group’s efforts to track down the killer. Occasional chapters scatted throughout follow the killer as he sets about making plans. We know him only as an ambiguous ‘he’, but as the story progresses we can assume he’s at least some sort of bushman given evidence of his extensive experience with the area.

I really loved this book – it had great writing, a fascinating premise, and kept a solid pace. When I picked this up I read it all the way through and didn’t put it down until I’d finished! That said, I have two very small nit-picks on the story:

  • DEC – maybe I missed it, but I had no idea what this acronym was. It was referenced mostly in the first half of the book (in saying things like ‘the DEC commissioner’ etc would come in) and I ended up looking this up on my own. Turns out it stands for Department of Environmental Conservation (I believe) and they’d manage things like guide licenses etc
  • Beth (Carlyle’s wife) – I honestly didn’t really feel like she added anything to the story. She was anxious and was a place to play in the second-fiddle story of Carlyle’s former student, but I wish there might have been a slightly bigger role for her.

Overall I’d highly recommend this book for those who enjoy outdoorsy thrillers, especially if you have an affinity for white water rafting.


Background photo for book adapted from original by Jade Lee on Unsplash

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